If you are reading this blog, I think it is safe to assume you are interested in family history. For those of you who are interested in writing your own family stories, I would highly recommend the courses conducted by The Family History Writing Studio. Teacher, Lynn Palermo will take your writing to heights that you could not imagine. When I began writing my story about my Great Grandfather, I had no idea of the mechanics of writing. Since completing courses in writing blog posts, scenes, and now plotting, my writing has done a complete turnaround. I’ve had to totally rewrite what I had originally written when I first embarked on the project..
Over the past few weeks, my course in plotting has forced me to live inside my Great Grandfather’s head. Through brainstorming and loads of research, I have gained a greater understanding and insight into how he might have thought. Of course, I don’t really know what inhabited his mind. There is no way of knowing the details of conversations he had with himself or with others more than a century ago. However, by opening the cupboard doors, I have been forced to analyse, slice and dice, and enhance my research with loads of “what ifs”. It has indeed been a detailed post mortem – the research of his life and the times in which he lived, have provided clues to his character and the life altering decisions he made.
The biggest clue to his character has been a single word that has been bandied around for a good part of a century. Everyone I have interviewed about William Lyons has summed him up in this little word – soldier. In fact, every photo that exists of him, except two, depicts him in uniform.
The big decision that changed his life, possibly for the worse, was his decision to enlist in 1914. He apparently told no-one until after he had actually enlisted. I thought it rather selfish, but at least he was being true to himself. By all accounts, he was a soldier, not a farmer. Through my research, however, I have gained some added insight into his decision.
True, he was a soldier at heart, but there may have been other forces at play. William continued his interest in the military after he began farming. He was member of a local Light Horse Reserve Regiment. According to my research, the Government expected the Reservists to enlist first. So, a strong sense of obligation had a part to play.
As I have progressed with my course, I have learnt to understand the inner journey of a soldier who was away from home for three years. After-all, he was a real living person who I’m sure missed his wife and children, despite finding his niche abroad. He also would have grieved the constant loss of friends and comrades and his mind would have been burdened by horrific acts he has witnessed or been forced to perform. That burden would have returned home with him in 1918 and remained with him for life.
I wish I could actually sit down and speak to Captain Lyons, the soldier, and Will Lyons the husband and father. Perhaps the way he survived was to keep the two separate. Although I am sure that they crossed paths more often than he or his family would have wished. Perhaps I should visit him at the Belgian Gardens Cemetery. He might speak to me from the grave. Until then, I will have to continue relying on my research and imagination in the hope that I get it right some of the time at least.