Private Nathaniel Dance, H Company of the Second Border Regiment, died on the 26th of October 1914 in Flanders. He was 27 years old.
Up until a few years ago, I had no idea he even existed. I hadn't begun delving into my family history yet, and so therefore, whenever Remembrance Day came round, I never thought of anyone specific. I always thought of the families who were left behind; how terrifying it must have been for the soldiers in the trenches. How phenomenally brave every single one of them was. How brave every single one of them is today.
But this year was different. This year, I thought of one man. My great great uncle. I don't really know much about him. He was born in 1887, lived in Enfield and died in the war. I don't know what he did before entering the war, I don't know if he was married or had a girlfriend.
But his character?
I have two postcards written by him from his time in the war. I have no idea whether he wrote anymore, or these are the only two he sent, but that is not important. It told me all about him.
He was brave. He was kind. He was caring.
Here is his first postcard, written in April. ( Or August, the date is not clear)
'Dear " + "
Just a line to let you know I am still living and in the best of health, this is a ruff lot.
And in May
Dear " + "
Did you receive that last Postcard I sent you, please write if there is anything wrong. Don't be afraid.
A man who, even in the heat of war, thinks about his family. He tells them, through his own terror, to not be scared. A man who, even in peril, wants to be there for his family; to support them. A good man. A brave man.
R.I.P Nathaniel Dance.