A WW1 story of romance, tragedy, family secrets, discovery and commemoration
George William Paysden (1895 – 1916)
11 October 2016, marked the 100th anniversary of George William Paysden’s death. His grandson Bert Groves recently visited George’s grave in Bailleul, Northern France. George was with the Royal Irish Rifles and survived the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. However, he then moved north to the villages of Loker and Dranouter where he was killed in action. George was awarded the Military Medal for bravery.
George wasn’t married but he left a sweetheart behind in Belfast. Annie McMullan gave birth to George’s daughter Doreen while he was in France. One can only begin to imagine how Annie felt when she learnt of George’s death. Many years later Doreen married and subsequently gave birth to George’s Grandson, Bert Groves.
The birth of Doreen was kept secret from almost the entire family. My Grandmother, George’s sister, didn’t know about Doreen. While Doreen was in the RAF she struck up a lifelong friendship with her cousin and my aunt, Jessie Kendal. We believe they never knew they were actually cousins. Two years ago, Bert Groves, a fellow enthusiast of family history, tracked me down. Bert and I, along with John Paysden, have developed a close friendship and continue to unearth our joint family history.
My Father, Sammy Kendal, had heard many wonderful stories about his Uncle George. In 2004 he and I became the first members of the family to visit George’s grave in Bailleul. When we eventually found George’s grave, my father knelt down and tears rolled down his face. It was a very emotional occasion.
The song, The Green Fields of France, include the following lines. I think are very appropriate in this instance
Did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined
And though you died back in nineteen sixteen
In some faith full heart are you forever nineteen
Do you have a similar story?
Post it to me at: [email protected]