It sits on a shelf in my hallway. A small circular container, brass, I think. It resembles a watch holder.
It was my grandfather’s, my mother’s father. He lived with us and passed away when I was fifteen. It’s in my keeping now.
Granda Alec, a WW1 veteran. By the time I was eight I could sing every song the British troops marched too. We paraded around the garden with imaginary bayonets against our shoulders. He met other veterans at the Captain’s Bar, every Thursday, singing his way back home.
Holding this now I wish I knew more about him, about the war. My mother told me he missed the Battle of the Somme. Mustard gassed days before and sent back to an army field hospital. Did he feel guilty as so many comrades fell at the Somme, or was he forever grateful for being gassed?
This little container doesn’t hold a watch, but a concertina shaped brass cup. When pulled open it holds liquid perfectly, no leaks. Then squeeze it together and it fits into the holder – a small piece of engineering genius. Perfect for a tot of whiskey. I’ve discovered it’s a mid-19th Century military or hunting cup. Where did Granda get this?
Did he purchase it before he left?
Did he find it on the battlefield?
Did a fellow combatant pass it on to him?
I’ll never know.