These poignant First World War flowers were treasured by Beatrice (Beattie) Amy Fittall until she died in 1972. A love letter written from France on Sunday 11th July 1915 by local teenager Harry Channon was accompanied by a sachet of pressed flowers.
Just a few months before he was killed, Harry wrote:
“Sorry I must leave off now for they can’t let us along – got to go digging – on a Sunday too! I have just come back after 5 hours digging…I have just picked a few wild flowers from the trenches. Hope they will keep alright, straight from the firing line.”
Days were spent with ‘Reg’ in ‘one of the finest dug-outs in the line’. Harry, afraid and worried about Beattie, hopes for a future with her.
Harry died on the first day of the Battle of Loos, France (25 September – 13 October 1915) as did almost 300 comrades from the 6th (City of London) Battalion (Rifles). His grave is in the Maroc British Cemetery at Grenay, France.
Born on 11 March 1897 to Kate and William John Channon, a gardener, he lived at 118 Gladstone Road, Wimbledon. Though baptized at Holy Trinity Church, Harry is listed on the war memorial in St Andrew’s Church, Wimbledon.
Harry’s letter and the flowers are currently on temporary display as part of a special Remembrance exhibition.
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Our treasured collections relate to life in Wimbledon from about 500,000 years ago right up to the present.