Posted 31 March 2010 - 11:29 PM
A strange coincidence? Or a cosmic convergence?
As I mentioned in an earlier posting there appears to be strange occurrences surrounding a particular postcard that appears on page 412 of my book. It is the one where a group of prisoners, mostly 1st Dorsets, are being interrogated by German officers.
This is the photo I mentioned purchasing years ago at a local antique fair that started the entire book project. The card was sent by Major Sauer on the very day he was severely injured when two heavy shells collapsed his dugout in Flers in mid July. Most of the occupants were killed and he was gas poisoned from the fumes of the shells.
When I purchased the regimental history it contained a letter to the former owner of the book regarding the post-war veteran organization. The letter was also written by Major Sauer.
I submitted an article to Stand To! On the trench raid and as a result a WFA member mentioned he had the 1914/15 medal of one of the prisoners, the only one I had identified, Sergeant Spencely. He offered the medal for sale and it now sits in the case holding my collection of Great War artifacts.
When the book was ready for sale a short time ago a copy was purchased by a gentleman in Ireland whose father had been captured in May 1916. When he obtained his copy of the book he was surprised to see an account of the events that resulted in his capture as well as his photograph on pages 412 and 413. He is third from left, the young looking dark haired man whose has his hands crossed. He can also be seen in the same pose in the second photo.
I have been corresponding with the family of this man who recognized his father in the photo. As a result of our discussions I can now identify two men in the photo. His name was 15451 Private Arthur Davin, 109th Brigade C.E., M.G. Coy. It has been very exciting to learn of the various details of his life, his military experience, his time as a POW, etc.
The coincidences (?) do not stop here. It seems that part of the family of Arthur Davin and his offspring came to the U.S. Some attended Syracuse University, about 15 minutes from my home and where my daughter and son both attended. Other members of the family moved near Utica, New York.
I happen to work for Utica Mutual Insurance Co. and my office is just at the city limits. I have written to the family to advise them that during a trip to Belfast and Ballymeana a few years back to visit a good friend Desmond Blackadder we happened to visit the nearby Somme museum. It was during the visit that I discovered that the director was married to a young woman who had also graduated from my old high school and had lived in the town where I grew up (Wheatley High School and nearby Mineola, New York).
I have heard the expression that it is a small world but I never realized how intertwined it has become until looking at the odd series of coincidences surrounding this one photograph. I wonder what will turn up next with this seemingly innocuous photograph.
P.S. Just think what might have happened, or not, if Major Sauer had not written and sent that postcard when he did. It was the only copy of the postcard I have seen so far that had specific regimental details on the reverse side. Without these it would just have been another generic Great War photo of events and people who would remain unknown.
Also, I received an add from Amazon UK recommending some good books, the first was written by Ralph J. Whitehead, The Other Side of the Wire and the other by another forum member entitled Underground Warfare 1914-1918 by Simon Jones. It was odd seeing the book being recommended in that manner.