Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Reflections on a wartime identity

This week a little bit of history has been passed to me. A small bracelet that belonged to my grandmother, who I loved dearly. I have been given a little disc on a small bracelet which has on it her name, address and blood group. It is a small thing, worthless to anyone else, but hugely important to me. In that one disc is so much that is implied. My grandmother worked for years for the British Red Cross. It speaks of the reality of war, it is an identity disc. Name and address, so your kin could be notified if anything happened to you. A potentially life saving disc, as it has her blood group on it, something I have never really spent that much time thinking about, what is my blood group? I have no idea. I know that the NHS know, as I have a daughter, and they will have tested me and it will be on my records...but I have never felt the need to wear it on my wrist. It is also a small piece of history, 70 years ago the family postal town was Denbigh, now it's Abergele. It's a little thing, but something that has made me think of army tags, and the unknown which was and is the fear engendered by war. I am lucky that I don't have to wear that information, but others from Wales face that same uncertainty,not here but in Afghanistan. I am not facing the day to day reality of war. The truth is I can only look at that bracelet with the benefit of hindsight, knowing my grandmother as a very practical person, and also someone who would stand up and be counted. A small thing that speaks of so much.