On my Facebook profile, I include a quote at the beginning of every week. This week’s quote was inspired by a war quotation that I saw in Waterstones’ bookshop window in Newcastle upon Tyne. The window had an array of books and items to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. The quote struck me by it’s simple but profound message. It was so thought-provoking that I scribbled it down in my notebook. The writer’s wisdom speaks for itself in that, we, as humankind, need to remember our mistakes so we don’t repeat them. It made me think that we have all been living on planet Earth for over two-thousand-years and there are still wars raging, people dying, orphans crying…
The quote also made me think of one of my own brave relatives, Thomas Lake, who gave his life in the fight for freedom in the First World War. I discovered this unknown relative when my friend, Jennifer A. Stephenson, began my Family Tree. As time wound on, I delved into the initial research that she had uncovered. One of the strangest ‘finds’ Jennifer discovered was that our relatives had fought cheek-by-cheek on the blood-drenched battlefields of Ypres. Both perished on the fields, where the poppies prospered, with Thomas being pronounced dead on the 2nd of December 1917. His name is recorded at the Tyne Cot Memorial (Panel 108 to 111) and closer to home on the Burnopfield War Memorial in Tyne and Wear. I was lucky to receive a photograph of Thomas from some Lake relatives, whom I had contacted whilst researching my family history. There was also another photograph of Thomas standing with his widowed mother, Harriet, holding a British Star medal for bravery. Unfortunately, someone has cut Thomas’ head off the photograph (possibly for a locket or a smaller picture frame), so the image was not worthy of being shown.
I am very proud of Thomas and his heroism and feel that he, and the men that fought alongside him, are very worthy of all of the recognition that they can be given.
It would be nice to think, that sometime in the future, that Edward Burke’s wise words were adopted and adhered to by all the people who inhabit and live upon this planet we share…
Picture 1: Lance Corporal Thomas Lake, with fellow soldiers. Thomas is on the back row, in the centre.
Picture 2: The War Memorial at Burnopfield, Tyne and Wear.
Picture 3: Detail of Thomas Lake’s name on the memorial.
Picture 4: Details of the medals Thomas Lake received.
Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
bears all its sons away;
they fly forgotten, as a dream
dies at the opening day… Words by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
I would like to thank Jennifer A. Stephenson and Marie L. Smyth, for supplying me with the above information on my relative, Thomas Lake.