Monday, 29 June 2015
One Story of a Shoreham Photo
She had been a nurse at the big house during the Great War. That is where she had met him. On the surface, it seemed straight forward except for the complications: he was married and she was engaged.
The war had changed everything, for everyone. Some found that they were stronger than they had imagined, while others had lost their minds. Perhaps her behaviour had been a little of both.
Neither of them had come from this little village but both of them had fallen in love with it, as they had each other. Her name was Helen Trent, and she had lived most of her life by the sea in Whitstable. He, on the other hand, had travelled with the army and considered nowhere and everywhere as home.
Nursing hadn’t been her first choice of career, she had always seen herself as a star on the London stage. But the dark winds had blown in from Europe and people had to do what they must, to keep the home fires burning.
He had improved in health – this was her job, patching up the sick and wounded and sending them back to be shot at again – they had found themselves growing closer. Then that that awful day arrived when he was to return to the Front. They took one last walk down from the big house to the bridge over the river.
He promised her that if he survived the war, they should meet up again and she agreed. Within the first few weeks of their separation, she broke from her engagement to Peter, a decent enough chap who had been chosen and approved by her parents. Peter didn’t seem that concerned, folks were getting married or separated all the time during the war years. They shook hands and parted as friends.
She received several letters from her love in which he wrote to say that he would tell his wife that she should divorce him on account of his adultery. He warned her it would be messy but everything these days was messy, thought Helen as she read the letter for the umpteenth time.
Then she lost touch with him. The love of her life was missing in action. She was sure he wasn’t dead, because she felt she would have known in her heart if that were true.
Yet the weeks, and then the months passed and there was no letters. If he were dead, they would have sent the sad news to his wife, and not to her, not to Helen.
Perhaps he had returned to his wife, perhaps he had come to his senses and perhaps he had fallen out of love with Helen. She was certainly still in love with him.
And then the years passed.
And then one day when she was back in Kent, she decided to visit that little bridge over the river, in that beautiful village of Shoreham.
It was 1930 and so much had changed in the world, but very little had done so in this little jewel in England.
And she looked down at the river, she smiled to herself because she was happy.
It was while she was doing this, that he had taken the photo. You see, he had come home and he had told his wife and now Helen and her soldier were married.
This was his photo of her.
bobby stevenson 2015