A month ago, during the run-up to Remembrance Sunday, I retold the story of the December 1914 funeral of Boer War hero, Private William Gibson of the First Grenadier Regiment of the Foot Guards – Great Dunmow’s first military funeral.
Not long after my post, I was looking through an on-line catalogue of an auction-house, and saw that a set of cards from Great Dunmow were coming up for auction. The image of the cards in the auction-house’s catalogue was extremely poor and none of the cards were clearly visible. But, they were too irresistible for me – I just had to bid on them! So I bid on them blind and, because there are many collectors of postcards from Great Dunmow, won them at great cost. Imagine my shock and surprise when they arrived in the post and I saw that one of the cards was of Great Dunmow’s Military Funeral but not the postcard I already had.
Arthur Willett, photographer of Great Dunmow, had taken at least two photographs of Private Gibson’s Military Funeral. This second card shows the funeral cortège with Gibson’s Union Jack covered coffin very clear in the photograph. Behind the carriage with the coffin, there is a group of people walking – including a hatted woman and some children. Is this Sarah Gibson, William’s wife, and their children? Behind this group, there is a large gun-carriage. Through the lens of Great Dunmow’s photographer, a tiny piece of First World War social history has been captured for posterity.
If anyone has anymore postcards of Great Dunmow’s military funeral, please do let me know – I would love to publish them on my blog. My recent auction purchase has given me some more great social-history postcards of this small East Anglian town through the lens of Arthur Willett – I’ll be publishing them on my blog over the next few months.
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– War and Remembrance: It’s a long way to Tipperary
– War and Remembrance: Great Dunmow’s Emergency Committee
– War and Remembrance: Great Dunmow’s Military Funeral 1914
– Postcard home from the front – The Camera never lies
– Postcards from the Front – from your loving son
– Memorial Tablet – I died in hell
– Memorial Tablet – I died of starvation
– Memorial Tablet – I died of wounds
– The Willett family of Great Dunmow
– Postcard from the Front – To my dear wife and sonny
– War and Remembrance – The Making of a War Memorial
– Great Dunmow’s Roll of Honour
– For the Fallan
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