Tears as the boxes arrived and were opened…


Well, today’s tears were the result of receiving some boxes from Calstock​. Boxes mainly of books, but also of a quite nice set of plates, cups and saucers, etc.

But the one item that had me most in tears was a small unused notebook inside a notebook case with the name of John E. Bovey written in it. The notebook itself is inscribed with

Gunner J.E. Bovey, Ammunition Column, RFA Kent.

Who was J. E. Bovey?

Well, quite simply he was my great great-uncle, the uncle of my grandfather W. John Rawles.

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Eighty-seven years since he died, my grandfather W. John Rawles lays a wreath on the grave of his uncle John E. Bovey in the British cemetery in Brebières. Photo: Stephen Rawles

He is buried in the British Cemetery in Brebières, near Douai, in northern France. He died on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and eighteen – the day that would become known as Armistice Day.

Corporal John E. Bovey died in 1918. His family no doubt on hearing of the Armistice expected him to return to them. Sadly, this was not to be. Unlike so many others, he died not on the battlefield in the middle of action, but of influenza. But he died in France, having gone to war to fight for his King and his country. And he died, aged just 21 years.

My grandfather, William John Rawles was born in 1919 and I understand was named John for his uncle. Although my second Christian name is John and there are reasons for it on both sides of the family, in one way, John Bovey’s name lives on in mine, and those of my cousins Richard and David, who both have John as a second Christian name.

Since I wrote the original post elsewhere (from which that quotation comes) I have changed the name by which I am known from Michael to John, mainly in memory of John E. Bovey, but not just him, but thinking also of various other Johns from around my family history.

Today, I also found in the boxes that arrived a replica King’s Scout badge that I had given my maternal grandfather who had lost his original one. I also got a load of books about printing, typography, and design. Hardly a day goes past when I do not see something and think that my grandfather would enjoy hearing about it. Of course, as he died in 2011 it is impossible to tell him, but now I can learn from some of his books.

And I can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in the cups that I inherited too.

I miss all my grandparents, I know I was lucky to know them all.

Hugh Campbell, Mary T.P. Campbell (née Carchrie), W. John Rawles, and Catherine E. Rawles (née Bowden) Requiescant in Pace.

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