Behind the Album

Love and Marriage

John PErcival and Jessie JacksonMost of these cards are written to my grandmother. There was probably only one leave of 1-2 weeks in the five and a half years Percy was away. Starting off service as a nineteen year old, Percy’s cards are usually quite chaste, but as time goes on he gets more candid, and sometimes can’t help himself as his love, loneliness and sexual frustration spill out onto the cards, albeit sometimes clothed in Edwardian innuendo.

It is affecting to think that the fairly new relationship of Percy and Jessie was interrupted for so long and in such anxious circumstances. After the leave in 1916, stuck at Southampton and then once back in France his loneliness is heartbreaking. Sadly we have no letters sent to him from my grandmother. They may well have told a tale.

Certainly the ardour of the earlier cards tails off in the five and a half years of separation. How could it be otherwise? By the time they spent any extended time together in late Spring 1920 they must have seemed a lot older and wiser than their years, both of them. They married in January 1921, less than a year after his return.

This brings up the question of what my mother told me about another woman. In a heart to heart with her father once, my mother said he admitted that he never should have married my grandmother. Honour, and the desire to do the correct thing prevailed I guess. The reason, or a reason was that my grandfather was in love with a woman called Lucy (a cousin?). Tragically Lucy was killed in a motorbike accident in 1924, Percy was driving and was also injured. He was understandably devastated and “never got over it”.

Percy and Jessie remained together and were happy enough I believe. In the photo at the top of this page we can see a framed picture of a girl on the table, this was Lucy. After my grandfather’s death, this picture disappeared.

In PC 0532 we see they were married and living in York, Christmas 1921. Two weeks later my mother would be born. Read about women and friends

January 21st 1920 Marraige of Percy and Jessie
key to wedding 1. Olive (bride's sister)    2. Muriel (groom's sister)    3. Jessie Dixon (mother of bride)    4. Cicely (groom's sister)    5. Cicely's husband
6. Hannah Jackson    7. John Jackson    8. Fred Dixon    9. Gillie (bride's brother)    10. John Percival    11. Jessie Amelia