I met David Livesey in 1998 when he and his wife Val came to Australia to see their daughter Joanne married to my brother Clive. At that time Clive and Joanne still lived in England in Lancashire with their 3 month old son Aaron, but had all come to Australia so that our parents could attend their wedding. In 2001 they returned to live in Australia and David and Val have visited every few years. When he heard of my project David recalled that he still had some WWI keepsakes that belonged to his Auntie Hetty.
Born 21 March 1897 Harriet Livesey was living in Lower Darwen in Lancashire when she became engaged at age 18, circa 1915, to her young man James Aspinall. David believes James was a local boy from either Blackburn or Darwen, or even Lower Darwen, which was the local village between the two towns.
Sadly, young James had enlisted in the army during WWI but died in action in either France or Belgium. Due to the destruction of over 60% of WWI British war records during the London bombings of WWII, there is little hope of finding out more about James’ war service. Later on Hetty meets another James.
James Lowe was born in 1899 and enlisted in the army on 27 July 1917 (4th Res Cavalry Regt). David’s Uncle Jim was demobilised into the army reserve in 1919 and he and Hetty married circa 1924. They did not have any children, but David remembers them as a kind and generous couple, who without much money, doted on him and then later on his children Joanne and Pam, spoiling them with love and kindness, like the grandchildren they never had.
Despite a lifetime spent with her husband James Lowe, Auntie Hetty kept a few keepsakes of her first love, young James Aspinall. How often this story must have been played out across countless young hearts during such a heartless war!
The family knew nothing of James Aspinall and his relationship and place in Hetty’s life until after her death on 16 October 1988, when the keepsakes were found.