Henry Thomas Emptage lied about his age when he enlisted at only 16. He had already lost both his parents and no doubt saw a life in the Army as a way out of poverty and an opportunity for travel and excitement and it may have helped him deal with an very tragic personal life. His career in the army saw him serve in two wars before being called up to serve again at the outbreak of WW1.
Like many of his generation, Charles Frederick Emptage lied about his age when he enlisted in 1909, probably to escape the poverty many of people in England suffered. He saw service in Singapore and India and on the outbreak of war in 1914 he returned to England and was posted to Belgium early in 1915.
Emily Sophia Wallis married Walter Dansy Emptage in 1920 when she was 22.
My mother had told me that Emily was adopted and I thought that there was little chance of finding her birth mother. However, thanks to the resourcefulness of Joan Leary, a member of Team Emptage, I was able to trace Emily’s birth.
Given her adoption, I expected Emily’s birth to be a sad event but I found the circumstances were even more upsetting than I expected.
Family poverty following the death of his father when Walter was just one year old probably led to Walter joining the Royal Fusiliers Special Reserve in 1913 when he was 17 and served in World War I. His military career continued when Walter enlisted in the RAF in 1923, serving for four years, including in Palestine. And he was still young enough to serve in the army when war broke out again in 1939.
But life for Walter took a darker turn after the war.
Edward’s twin brother died in World War 1 but Edward survived. He was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre in the process but at what cost to himself and to his family?
His son David begins to understand his father’s emotional distance.
There is a well used but nevertheless very apt saying in family history research, that it raises more questions than it answers.
And that is so true of the story of two brothers, three women and seventeen children.