Who will you be remembering on Lives of the First World War? IWM’s Anthony Richards shares who he’ll be remembering: Private Michael H Tidmarsh.
On 4 August I will be remembering my great-uncle, Private Michael H Tidmarsh (known as ‘Harry’), who served with B Company of the 8th Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. From November 1915 the 8th Ox and Bucks had been posted to Salonika in order to support the 26th Division in the Macedonian campaign.
Harry’s experience of the First World War
On 28 January 1916, Harry wrote home to his family living in the West Midlands: ‘It must be like a country village in Birmingham now, Aunt, what with the windows darkened. I expect it is on account of so many munitions factories. Did I tell you that we have had two air raids, there wasn’t much damage done. It is alright watching our ships and artillery firing at them. I haven’t had my wish yet and that is to see one brought down, but still there is time yet’.
His duties as a Pioneer involved the construction of roads across the Macedonian landscape, which even today are remembered with admiration by the local Greeks as having been ‘made by the British’: ‘I am pleased to say I am still going on alright. I think I will take to marrying when I get back as I get plenty of practice with a pick and shovel, what with road making and trench digging, and tell Uncle that I think I could cut a better figure on the garden now’.
Harry’s life after 1918
Harry was fortunate enough to survive the war and returned to civilian life in Birmingham, but the many military hospitals based around that part of the country meant that wounded soldiers were an everyday sight throughout the 1920s and a constant reminder to Harry and others like him of their own experience of war. His original letters, and those of thousands of other individuals, are now preserved within IWM’s extensive and ever-growing archive of personal papers.
- View Private Michael H Tidmarh’s Life Story Page.
- Anthony Richards is Section Head – Documents and Sound, Collections at IWM.