On 11.11.11 I launched a new venture called Webwiser – http://www.webwiser.co.uk @webwiserUK – a stake in the ground for something that I hope will grow to be worthwhile and fulfilling. I think this particular date had been planted in my head through a blog post I wrote earlier this year about my car hitting the 111111 mile mark and it being an omen of some sort. I’m sure this is a self-fulfilling prophecy but the timing for this move felt right for quite a number of reasons.
Anyway, it seems others had the idea of using this numerically significant date to make announcements…
- And, in another rock related theme, social apps developer ‘OneLouder’ celebrated the one and only ‘National OneLouder Day’ – a tribute to the infamous and supremely funny This is Spinal Tap and the scene when the band’s lead guitarist describes his special amp that goes up to 11 :)
Aside from this date being refered to as the Nerd’s New Year (a reference to its rare binary nature) and ‘The day that most resembles corduroy’ (I kid you not) it was also, of course, our annual Remembrance Day chosen to mark the ending of hostilities of the World War I – which took effect at the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.
Remembrance Day has taken on a new significance for me in 2011 as it comes in a year during which I have looked deeply into some of my family ancestry to help uncover more clues about the hereditary deafness that has been prevalent for many generations. Those investigations revealed a much more extensive family history than had been known by current generations and also a lot of documentation dating back as far as the early 1700s.
One particular document that came to light was my paternal Grandfather’s war record. It was known in the family that Frank William Hoskins had been a ‘good shot’ and had enlisted at the tender age of ’18 years 6 months’ in the Rifle Brigade before the outbreak of the First World War. From 1911 to 1914 he spent time in North Africa and India before returning the England and subsequently embarking with the 4th Batallion The Rifle Brigade to France on December 20th 1914.
He spent a year on the Western Front before embarking from Marseilles on 17th November 1915 to Salonica where he fought in the Macedonian campaigns to prevent the Bulgarians from invading Greece, including the notorious Battle of Doiran in which many British troops were massacred. Shortly after that battle in September 1918 my Grandfather was admitted to a field hospital suffering from malaria and embarked back to the UK on 26th of November 1918 – 15 days after the war ended. On return to the UK, he was treated at the Southern Command Malaria Concentration Centre and finally demobilised on 1st April 1919.
In a poignant moment when reading through 20 pages of surprisingly detailed and well-preserved documents of his war record, I came across a written statement he had made in his own hand about diseases, injuries or wounds he had at the point of being discharged. I’ve copied his words below where he states he was suffering from ‘slight deafness’ which he believed had been caused by fever from an earlier attack of malaria in 1916. Little did he know, at the age of 25, that he was experiencing the onset of a hereditary condition that would see him totally deaf by the age of 50 and that many generations of the family had experienced such things before.
My Grandfather died before I was born and while I have enormous respect for what he did during his 8 years as a Rifleman and the many millions of others who gave their lives to fight for the freedom we enjoy and often take for granted, my thoughts on 11.11.11 and today, on Remembrance Sunday, are for the hundreds and thousands of our servicemen and women who have been injured in the long drawn battles of our modern day warzones.
For this reason, I made a pledge on 11.11.11 to support an organisation that stuck in my memory after my wife and I listened to Allen Parton tell his story at an event a couple of years ago. He described very movingly how he was injured badly during the first Gulf War and how being given a dog trained specially for disabled people had changed his life and made him determined to survive and recover.
Allen went on to create Hounds for Heroes to help other ex-service people benefit from trained dogs in the way that he has. We thought it was a practical and very worthwhile cause and made a pledge on 11.11.11 to support it through the launch of Webwiser.
Those who follow @webwiserUK before the end of November will help contribute to the great work of Hounds for Heroes ….