Lawrence Alfred Copeland, my maternal grandfather, was born in 1885, the son of a coalminer in the Doncaster area of Yorkshire. At the age of 15 he was working as a colliery yard labourer but quite wisely decided that ‘going down ‘t pit was not for him. Working with the colliery got him into the colliery brass band. From then on he described himself as a musician. By the time 1904 arrived he was travelling the country, playing the cornet for various travelling circuses. He travelled all over the UK and Ireland and when he wasn’t with the circus he was playing in the orchestra for the numerous music halls, (theatres, vaudeville) that were in vogue in those days. By 1912 arrived he was travelling the world. Wherever he went he sent back a postcard to his mother. I have them all. He went all over Europe, S.Africa, Australia, New Zealand and some I might have missed. In those days it must have been a great adventure travelling the world by steam ship. By the time the first world war came he would have been just about thirty. Maybe he was too old or perhaps just wise because he didn’t enlist. He did, however, play the troops back in the band so I suppose someone had to do that.
That, however, was to justify sarcastic comments from my parents to the effect that ‘he didn’t do his duty’. I think he did. There was no point in getting slaughtered like all the other millions. He married my grandmothet, Ethel, in 1915, out of a sense of duty and kindness (she had a baby from someone else) and that was his big mistake. As I said before, more about all that later.
Lawrence Alfred Copeland 1885-1968