In the nineteen sixty six anniversary of the Somme battle, interviews were mainly of Ulster veterans from the First World War. The lack of empathy shown by the interviewer in his questioning was stark.
Behind the mask of detailed facts asked of these people lie tragic stories: how did they come to terms with what happened to them and how did that affect the rest of their lives?
One women (unnamed) was given a small chance to speak of her grief. She still retained a sense of profound bewilderment as to what had happened to her husband, even after forty years. She couldn’t understand the speed with which he had gone from a man full of health as he waved her goodbye, to a corpse. The suggestion was that he had died of some kind disease very soon after he left. It is reckoned that tens of thousands died at the front from disease alone.
As the woman spoke of the postman delivering the stark letter telling of her husband’s sudden death, I imagined the horror of that moment for her and her children, and how she would now manage to keep herself and her children alive.
This must have been the lot of many women who suffered and struggled as she did. Their pain lasted a lifetime too.