Charles Freeman

Helles memorial Gallipoli
In 1895 a male child was born to Caroline and George Freeman. He was christened Charles, gifted with his mother's maiden name as his middle name and spent his childhood in rural Gloucestershire. I can only guess at what the Freeman's hoped for their son's future, but I do know that every parent is hard wired to achieve a most basic human drive; that of protecting their child. The Great War disabused so many parents of this illusion of control, and 20 years after he was born Charles Stow Freeman was killed in Gallipoli.

Families deal with anxiety, loss and grief in different, sometimes creative ways. Fast forward 100 years and the piece of information that comes down to me is that Charles is an unlucky name. Because Charles Stow Freeman was killed, as was the next Charles (in the Second World War) the name Charles became emotionally charged, and dropped out of family use.

Sherborne Gloucester
However Charles could so easily have been a James, or a Thomas, (like his two cousins fighting in France). It could have been Walter, or William.  What matters isn't the name, but recognising the multitude of names.  The proverb runs that "Truth is the daughter of time", but the truth is that we haven't really moved on so far in the last 100 years, scratch the surface and the hostility bleeds through.

So maybe the best I can do is read the names, the dates, the ages, of those men memorialised; and when I feel sick with the sheer volume of all that loss, remember to look around; to notice and nurture the relationships  I have with others, as well as be grateful for the freedoms I take for granted.  Remember to see to that and see that those who follow do the same.