When in 1914 what came to be called the Great War broke out, men of our families, mine and Greg’s, enlisted and fought for their country. This happened again in the war that followed the war to end all wars.

Taken together their determination to serve had a measurable affect on the shape of the conflict and its outcome, of course, but in each case their personal decision also had deep private consequences for their friends and family. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, children, girlfriends, mates, and acquaintances all became willing or unwilling partners in a man’s choice to join up, and one way or another they all suffered for it.

At the very least the father, son, husband, brother, or friend was taken from their lives for a long time, and it very soon became clear that the person finally returned to them, if he returned, might now be a sad maimed and crippled shell of the young man who had gone away.

Both Greg’s grandfathers fought in WWI. Both were wounded and returned to ordinary life more or less incapacitated, a burden to themselves and their families. Greg’s paternal grandfather Cecil lost a brother, a half-brother, and a cousin. His maternal grandfather Arthur Sullivan came back wounded and ‘shell-shocked’, to use the euphemism of the day.

Greg’s father signed on in WW2 and was sent to New Guinea. He didn’t like to talk about it.

All four of my great grandfathers fought in WWI. All were wounded or became ill. Both my grandfathers fought in WW2.

WW1 and 2 participation our family

Family tree chart showing the men of our family who fought in WW1: all eligible men of our family in that generation fought and all of them were wounded or ill as a result. Men highlighted in grey: Peter, Geoff and Hans fought in WW2.

Greg’s paternal grandfather Cecil Young (1898 – 1975) fought along with the following relatives.

Greg’s grandmother Elizabeth Cross had two brothers and a cousin fighting.

Greg’s maternal grandfather, Arthur Sullivan (1891 – 1975) fought. Also fighting were a brother and brother-in-law.

  • Henry Sullivan 1894 – 1969 brother
  • Edward Blakeley Clark 1879 – 1947 brother-in-law

The brothers of Greg’s maternal grandmother, Stella Esther Gilbart Sullivan née Dawson (1894 – 1975) were all too young to enlist and her sisters did not marry until after the war. Her husband fought. An uncle was killed in action and a cousin of her mother’s also fought.

On my side of the family my father’s paternal grandfather, Constantine Trent Champion de Crespigny (1882 – 1952), fought as did three of his brothers, one of whom was killed. There were also several maternal cousins who fought, however because his mother had died when he was young, I am not sure that he would have known these cousins well.

  • Francis George Travers Champion_de_Crespigny 1892 – 1968 brother
  • Hugh Vivian Champion_de_Crespigny 1897 – 1969 brother
  • Philip Champion_de_Crespigny 1879 – 1918 brother
  • Arthur Philip Chauncy 1897 – 1954 cousin
  • Auschar Philip Lamothe Chauncy 1888 – 1937 cousin
  • Clement Lamothe Chauncy 1893 – 1917 cousin

My father’s paternal grandmother was Beatrix de Crespigny née Hughes. Her husband fought as did two of her brothers; the other brother had been rejected on medical grounds. One brother was killed. One of her cousins also died. Two cousins of her father’s also fought.

  • Cedric Stuart Castlereagh Hughes 1893 – 1953 brother
  • Vyvyan Westbury Hughes 1888 – 1916 brother
  • Selwyn Goldstein 1873 – 1917 cousin
  • Cyril Hughes 1875 – 1916 cousin of father
  • Harry Wynne Hughes 1870 – 1945 cousin of father

My father’s maternal grandfather, Arthur Murray Cudmore (1870 -1951) fought. He had quite a few cousins and a nephew fighting.

My father’s maternal grandmother was Kathleen Cudmore formerly Cavenagh-Mainwaring née Cavenagh. Her husband fought as did two of her brothers; the other brother was rejected. Her brothers-in-law also fought.

Both of my mother’s grandfathers served in the German army and were wounded.

101 years after the armistice was signed on 11 November 1918 we remember those who fought and those who died in the war.


A poppy is commonly used as a remembrance symbol.