Jenny Allen recalls the Wall of Remembrance

Jenny's photograph, on the front page of the Society's Annual Report, has prompted a number of members to ask about the image she was pinning on the wall. This is Jenny's story.

Placing my dad’s photograph on the Wall of Remembrance

My father, Lieutenant Michael Owen Carmody, was born in Southwark, London 20 January 1890. The family lived in Union Street. He died in Bangalore, India, 18 February 1942 at the sadly early age of 52.

Two of the Carmody brothers, James Carmody and my dad, joined the Services. My dad served in the Royal Field Artillery, The Machine Gun Corps, and the Tank Corps. In the photograph I pinned up on the Wall of Remembrance he is wearing jodhpurs, with a riding crop and boots, denoting that he is the lead driver in charge of the six horses that would pull the gun carriage and lumbar. The two brothers briefly met up at the Delhi Durbar Celebrations in 1911.

My dad was only 17 years old at the time he joined up, and so he was 24 when War began in 1914. At the outbreak of the war, having already served seven years, he would almost certainly have been in Belgium.  I am reminded of the horror and quagmire of mud depicted in Michael Mulpurgo’s War Horse.

He survived the war, and served in India on the North West Frontier – the Kyber Pass and Afghanistan. Latterly he was in the MES (Military Engineering Service). His grave is in the immaculate and carefully tended Military War Graves Commission Cemetery in Chennai, the final resting place of my dear dad and hundreds of others like him.

Throughout my life I have always felt a gap and missed my father. Being just a very young child when he died, it grieves me that I have no memories of him. There are photographs and a lovely fatherly letter to one of my sisters. I gave his six medals to my brother. So it was very meaningful for me to place his photograph together with all the others on the Remembrance Wall.  I’m sure we all had similar feelings about our loved ones.

It was a wonderful idea to create a Wall of Remembrance, and Sainsburys were most helpful with this. The Wall generated a great deal of interest amongst adults and children alike. Every name that was on the Chislehurst War Memorial was written on white card and displayed on the black wall. People were invited to bring in memorabilia, and they brought in a variety of photographs, posters, stories and much else. The children coloured in poppies and moustaches (on the Your Country Needs You poster). The contributions for display and the stories shared came in continuously over the four days, with many people visiting several times.

The Chislehurst Society sponsored the event, which Joanna Friel and several society members assembled and manned.

A member, Christine Barrett, in a nurses uniform (pictured right) represented the VAD nurses (Voluntary Aid Detachment), and there was also a representative of the British Legion and a visit from our MP.

The youngest person to visit was a baby of three weeks brought by the father. Another visitor came all the way from Nottingham.

This commemoration was poignant and moving and I’m sure many people felt humbled and grateful to be alive, when reflecting on the World War I Wall of Remembrance

Jenny Allen

To see a gallery of images taken in August last year, look here...