I didn’t expect to be writing a blog today, but as it’s Remembrance Day it seemed right to talk about a hero of mine. Private James Logan.
At the close of the 19th century James Logan was born in an industrial town in the north east of England. At that time the British still controlled Canada, Australia, New Zealand and large portions of Asia and Africa.
Global politics in the wake of the Franco-Prussian and Baltic wars was fraught. Everyone now knows the spark that ignited the tinder box was an attempted assassination, and on August 12, 1914 - Great Britain and France declared war on Austria-Hungary.
Later that year, at the age of 16 or 17 James Logan lied about his age to enlist in the army as an infantryman and was sent to mainland Europe to fight in the war. He would end up fighting the Germans in either France or Belgium in late 2014 or early 2015.
During one of many battles between Britain and Germany his unit was fighting against the pressing German military who were trying to advance further into allied territory. The exact location is something I’m not aware of but somewhere likely on the north eastern region of France. This is pure conjecture of course but at that time of year in that part of Europe the ground was likely frozen, their breath would hang in the air and the low, winter sun would shine through whatever trees and buildings that there may have been.
Wherever they were located the allied forces held a post, which would come under great pressure from the German forces and the decision was made for his unit to retreat. Fearing that mere retreat would only delay the inevitable James Logan took to a battery gun (either by direct order or volunteering) and tried to hold back Germany’s advances to allow the remaining soldiers to either escape or regroup and mount a more effective defence.
During the short period in which James held the position he was shot in the shoulder and very badly wounded, but still held. At the point where it looked inevitable that the post would be overrun James himself retreated and eventually regrouped with his unit. Details are unclear but either during his defence or at a later stage James’ arm was removed at the shoulder.
Following this catastrophic injury, he was discharged from the army due to being unfit for service. He arrived back in the North East and from that point he watched the war unfold in front of him from home, like the rest of Britain. He was given the British Military Medal for this sacrifice and bravery. In the years that followed he met a woman named Anne Jordan, and either by marriage or adoption the pair would have 3 children, Jimmy, Eric and Alan.
Alan became involved in small scale fraud and disappeared, Jimmy would unfortunately succumb to mental anguish and take his own life and Eric lived in Jarrow in the north east of England and worked in the ship yards there.
In the 60s Eric met a woman named Sheila who had 2 sons, Martin and Ian, whom he would later legally adopt. Eric and Sheila would marry and have a son of their own, Neil.
Neil married Susan and had 2 children. A daughter, Emma and a Son, Sam. Sam was 6’ 6” at 14 years old and suffers with Autism.
Ian enlisted in the Navy and fought in the Falkland conflict. When he returned, he married Maureen and they had 9 children.
And Martin is my father. James Logan is my adopted great grandfather, but his name means more than any DNA or genetic makeup ever could.
He died a few years before I was born, though I met his wife, my great grandmother, Anne Jordan. My grandfather Eric was one of my favourite people. He died when I was in my mid to late 20s and I think I must have heard him speak 20 times at the most. He would sit in the corner of their living room and just survey.
The last words I ever heard him say were during one of his many trips to hospital in the later years. The people around his bed were discussing the new version of True Grit, I said I thought Jeff Bridges was great as Rooster Cogburn and my grandad piped up and said, “Fill your hands you son of a bitch”.
As far as last words go I think these are pretty perfect.