Family maintains 90-year tradition of remembrance

Bicester Advertiser: Sue Hughes with photographs of her family and some of the medals they earned Sue Hughes with photographs of her family and some of the medals they earned

A GRAND-DAUGHTER looks through albums full of hundreds of postcards sent to ‘my dear little wife’ and ‘my dear son’, sent from France between 1914 and 1917.

Next to them lie the medals her grandfather would never receive and pictures of the son he would never meet.

The story may sound familiar to many families across Oxfordshire in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday next week.

But 67-year-old Sue Hughes, from Bucknell, near Bicester, is determined to keep alive the memory of the man who wrote the postcards.

Every year, she lays a bunch of white chrysanthemums and a poppy cross on the war memorial in Wolvercote, alongside the name of her grandfather, George Freeman.

Mrs Hughes said: “My grand-father was killed on November 8, 1917, and so every year after that, his wife Mary Ann would place the flowers and cross at the cemetery.

“Then, when she became too ill to visit, my father would take them, and when he became too ill, I took on the tradition.

“In fact, we’ve never missed a Remembrance Day in 92 years.”

George Freeman was 32 when he was killed fighting with the Northumberland Fusiliers in France.

He left behind his pregnant wife and two young sons, George and William, all living in Wolvercote. The third son, Kenneth, was born shortly after.

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Mrs Hughes said: “Every year, my grandmother used to take the flowers to the memorial.

“She never used to talk about him much and I never asked her. I think I was maybe just too young to think about it at the time. But she never remarried and now, when you look back, it’s sad that he never got to meet his little son.”

The three boys, George, William and Ken, would also spend time in uniform. They all joined up at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.

Mrs Hughes said: “My father George joined the RAF, Ken was in the Army and William joined the Navy.

“But luckily all three came back from war this time.”

After the war, her father joined the Royal British Legion parade in Wolvercote each year and took great pride in wearing his medals and paying tribute to lost friends, and his father.

Mr Freeman died in 2001, aged 91.

Mrs Hughes said: “Now I take the flowers to the memorial every year – it just feels like a nice thing to do, as it’s part of my family history.

“I hope that soon my daughter Rachel will be able to join me and then eventually take over.

“It’s important that we remember the people that came before us like this. It’s part of my life and a real family tradition.”

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