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Proud memories of his dad

Proud memories of his dad

Francis Batt

Proud memories of his dad

The centenary of the outbreak of the 'war to end all wars' is almost upon us.

Nearly all of the young men who survived its horrors are gone now. But for someone like Bill Habgood, they are not forgotten.

His dad Ernie served throughout the 1914 - 1918 conflict.

Bill, 86, who lives at Sydney Camm House in Albert Street, Windsor proudly keeps his dad's medals and his photograph. Ernie survived to be 84. One of his medals is for serving in the Battle of Mons.

Bill said: "He served with the Royal Berkshire Regiment and a bullet hit him in the back of the neck.

"They brought him home, got the bullet out, got him well and sent him straight back.

"My father did not talk about it much but he remembered the horses struggling to pull the guns through the mud - the mud and the rain in the trenches.

"He said to me: 'It was terrible Bill'."

Bill remembers accompanying his dad on commemorative marches with other 'old contemptibles' -  the term created in response to the Kaiser's reference to Britain's 'contemptible little army'.

Two of Ernie's brothers did not survive. George was 21 when he was killed in France on July 5, 1916. Frederick died while serving in the navy.

Bill saw the shadow of war fell across his generation as well. Although the Second World War was just ending when he was called up in 1945, his cousin Victor - another Windsor lad  - died aboard a British submarine destroyed by a German mine in a Norwegian fjord.

Bill took his son John with him in the 1980s when he was invited to attend a Remembrance Service in Norway in memory of the men.

Bill and his late wife Joyce also had three daughters. He is a proud grandfather to eight and great-grandfather to three.

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