St Albans woman marches in people’s procession to honour relatives who fought in world wars

PUBLISHED: 17:21 12 November 2018

Jo Woodworth from St Albans marched in the people's procession to mark the centenary of World War I. Picture: Jo Woodworth

Jo Woodworth from St Albans marched in the people's procession to mark the centenary of World War I. Picture: Jo Woodworth

Archant

A St Albans woman marched in the people’s procession on Remembrance Sunday to mark her family members who fought in World War I.

Jo Woodworth's grandfather Walter Eldridge who fought in World War I. Picture: Jo WoodworthJo Woodworth's grandfather Walter Eldridge who fought in World War I. Picture: Jo Woodworth

Jo Woodworth, 61, of Townsend Drive, is marching past the Cenotaph in London in honour of her grandfather and great-uncle, who fought in the First World War, and her father, who fought in World War II.

Her grandfather, Walter Eldridge, survived the war but lost a finger from a gunshot wound. Jo said: “He was born in London and that’s where he lived but he joined a Scottish regiment.

“His wife died in a flu epidemic two weeks after Armistice, so he came home to a baby and no wife.

“He never talked about it - we just knew as grandchildren that grandad had lost a finger. He met my grandmother and remarried and had four children, and they lived in the same house their whole life.”

Jo Woodworth's father Peter Eldridge who fought in World War II. Picture: Jo WoodworthJo Woodworth's father Peter Eldridge who fought in World War II. Picture: Jo Woodworth

Jo is also marching for her great-uncle Charles Tween, her grandmother’s brother, who was killed at Ypres in 1915, and for her 94-year-old father Peter Eldridge.

She said: “[Peter] was 15 in 1939. He joined the RAF when he was 18 in 1942 and went off to Africa for training. He trained as a pilot and was all over Africa and the Middle East.

“I feel very proud. I don’t want us to forget about World War I. We’re going to mark this in a big way after 100 years and then I think we should sort of put it to one side because we can’t mark 101 years, 102 years etc.”

At the parade, Jo marched alongside her cousin and carried a picture of her grandfather in his kilt.

Jo Woodworth's Great Uncle Charles who died in World War I. Picture: Jo WoodworthJo Woodworth's Great Uncle Charles who died in World War I. Picture: Jo Woodworth

She said: “I don’t think I had any concept of how many people 10,000 was. We did fill half a mile.

“There was a bit of waiting around but we had big screens up so we could see what was going on. Everyone was swapping their family stories.

“I happened to be in the last column so the main coverage had already finished by the time we started. I thought everyone would be gone but there were still crowds of people waiting.

“It was really lovely - it was a fantastic atmosphere. I’d never been up to watch the parade before. Of course we all did the two minutes silence together. When you’re with a crowd of people and people have their medals and wreaths - that was very emotional. When you’re that close to the cenotaph you realise what a big thing it is.”

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