William Philip Esson is a dream to research. There is a Medal Card. He died, killed in action. A look at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Webpage gives yet more detail. Although he has no known grave. He was buried behind the lines. William is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial. The Commission’s website also reveals he was the father of Isobel M Esson. William married her mother, Helen Stephen Rennie, in 1909. Sadly a typical story of the times. Young man, when you are sixty they are all “Young Men”, goes to war. Killed so close to the end. Another child grows up without their dad. Isobel was not yet 7 years old when her dad died. She lived near Strathdon in Aberdeenshire. A beautiful part of the world. William went to war at the beginning of January 1917. Isobel would have been 5 years old. Around February 1918 William managed to get home leave so he, hopefully, would have spent some time with his daughter. There was another daughter, Helen Stephen. No mention of her on the Commission’s webpage, which is sad. Helen would have been 3 when their dad went off to France to fight in the Great War. Helen is mentioned in William’s service record, which also survives. There is also mention of Helen in de Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-18. As yet I have been unable to find any more information about Helen. Apart from Helen was named after her mother. Can not imagine how the family coped. Or what could be worse? That is where the stories of those killed in action usually end. we are left to imagine and contemplate. For Isobel, it could not have got any more tragic. On the 19th September 1918 her dad was killed. Least we forget, although soldiers are never forgotten. Just two years and six days after her mother had died.
Helen Stephen Rennie died 13th September 1916. RIP.Helen’s grave at Strathdon (photo Peter Anderson)