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.
A difficult childhood and an army career in which he obtained three good conduct medals. But his conduct as a civilian was questionable, as one young lady was to find out. But was there a happy ending?
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.
What did you do in the war, Mummy?
Leaving school just a few months before the start of World War 2, Eileen became a telephone operator in the Civil Service and was one of thousands who worked to keep communications going throughout the country. They worked shifts to maintain the service 24 hours a day, often sleeping on camp beds at the telephone exchanges. They stayed at their switchboards in the midst of bombing raids. They were the unsung heroes.
But was there even more to Eileen Joyce Emptage?
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.