Submitted by Wendy Patch
I am the granddaughter of the much celebrated Harry Patch, who is famous, for the most part because he survived the First World War. But I often think of my other grandfather, or great grandfather to be precise, who didn’t survive and of his wife, who was left a widow with five young children, my grandmother amongst them. His name was Warwick McCartney and he was a deserter. Who knows why, fear, no doubt but surely just as much a reluctance to leave his wife and young family. He was caught, taken to Scotland to be as far from his family as possible (he was a Londoner) to discourage absconding.
I know my great grandmother travelled up to Scotland by train to see him and that she knew when he was passing through London on his way to the front, so she went to the station hoping to see him as he passed through. Needless to say she was unsuccessful. He was put in the front lines, as I understand deserters often were and was killed, leaving his wife to manage on her own as best she could.
[Warwick’s] wife was called Caroline (maiden name Farmer) and she actually had seven children when he died, my grandmother Annie, Warwick (known as Wally), Nell, Carrie, Harry boy, Bobby and Georgie. The two little boys were in hospital, we think with diphtheria and when the policeman came to the door to tell her that her husband had been killed, she thought he’d come to tell her one of the boys had died. They did, in fact both die soon afterwards. Poor woman.
She married again a Bill Badder and had two more children, Joe and Joyce but Bill was “no good” so they divorced. Then her sister died in childbirth and she brought up the baby Donald and his older sister, another Joyce. She eventually married their father, when the law changed allowing her to marry her dead sister’s husband.
I remember her as a strong woman (she must have been) with a great sense of humour.
My mother was always telling us stories about her gran and loved her dearly.
Editor’s Note: As the image from the Ancestry website shows, Warwick may have been sent to Egypt (EEF = Egypt Expeditionary Force) for court martial, and so may not have died at the front in France.
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