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Photos of: 1. Frederick Dalby on horse. 2. An ammunition box, for wearing on a belt. 3. Cap badge of Royal Artillery. 4. Corporal stripes. 5. A leather lanyard he made. 6. Programme for Basrah Spring Races, 2nd Day, Saturday April 6th 1918. 7. A 'Turkish' pipe.
Both my grandfathers were involved in the First World War as far as I know. I know more about Frederick Dalby, who signed up in 1915 and was demobilised in 1919. As a child, I spent a good bit of time in his company and used to quiz him up on his memories. This was further facilitated by a large pile of 'Illustrated War News' magazines that lay in a corner of the sitting room in Dunlaoighre, Co.Dublin. In retrospect, these were the 'CNN' of the day - war reporting of a 'propaganda' nature for the folks back home. I think they were published on a weekly basis with lots of B/W photos and diagrams along with accounts of various fronts and battles. My grandad, I'm sure humoured my questions and chatted without revealing too much of the difficulties of war to a boy less than 10 years of age. His father was from a shoe making background and Fred was assigned to the Royal Artillery as a saddler. I think the various artillery regiments changed a good bit, he told me he was in the Royal Horse Artillery but his cap badge is that of the Royal Artillery and his service record which is damaged mentions Heavy Artillery Leicester. Either way, his job was mantaining and repairing the tack used by the horses to drag the large guns around. Being handy at leather work, he often made various objects, including the pistol leash pictured here. He also told me that he a good 'nixer' in converting army boots into lighter football boots for the lads when they were back resting and played soccer matches for to fill the time. He was promoted to Corporal in 1919. He told me once that he resisted promotion as he didn't wish to be responsible for other men's lives but it's also possible he was promoted near end of hostilities to improve any army pay/ pension? He served mostly in what he called Mesopotamia or modern day Iraq and also in Egypt. I have some passes for him to visit Cairo and a race programme for Basrah Spring Races. He survived relatively unscathed except for contracting malaria according to his army record. We went down town (Dunlaoighre) nearly every day to buy the paper etc. and on the way, he would often stop at other houses to chat with veterans who might be out sitting in their front gardens if the weather was fine. There were 3-4 of these gentlemen and they were generally missing arms, legs and were often pretty deaf. One chap a few doors down sat on his two stumps on a blanket - I was always a little afraid of them.