A Virtual Meeting

The Internet often drives me mad as it’s such a temptation to pull away from the sentence at hand and dive into the the wonderland of distractions it presents. But of course, there are other times when it proves to be an invaluable tool. Recently, as I was looking through some photographs of my father in his British regiment during World War II, I happened to turn one over. On the back of a photo of his platoon SJOA Company Enlargedin a officer’s training unit in York, England, he had scribbled a note to his mother describing some of his fellow soldiers.It reads in part: Dear Ma, I thought these pictures would amuse you. This one is the platoon in which I live and move and have my being. George Thomson’s [on] my right. Immediately above me is Hon. Trenchard (?)...we all thought he was a ghastly little snob at first, but he turns out O.K. Second on his left is Sir Oswald Moseley’s [sic] son- very shy, extremely nice. Almost all of them are Eton, Harrow, Winchester, Rugby, etc. 

The Mosley name caught my eye as only a few days after my father mailed this photograph home to Connecticut, he was to meet my mother for the first time in a baronial castle near York. Unbeknownst to him of course, his future wife was a Mosley. It turns out that even though they spell their name the same way, my mother and my father’s fellow soldier are not related, but I did learn with a few Google searches that Nicholas Mosley is a well known British writer of fiction and memoir. The son of Oswald Mosley, the British fascist, Nicholas fought in the Italian campaign during the war. He is 91 years old and still very engaged in life. When, thanks to the Internet, I contacted him through his publisher, he graciously responded that he was thrilled to see the photograph along with the caption on the back, and that he remembered my father very well.

“I do remember your father, because he and the other Americans were some six years older than the rest of us, who were still like schoolboys. We looked on the Americans with great respect for volunteering in our army. And Stewart seemed to be their leader because we turned to him for information or advice when needed. I remember him as being a friend and steadfast presence.”
In the photograph, my father is the third from the left in the front row and in the second row above him, Nicholas Mosley is the sixth from the left.
Nicholas sent me a copy of his book TIME AT WAR in which he describes his experiences in Italy.  Although they were in different battalions by then, he and my father both left England on the SS Volendam, bound for North Africa and eventually Italy. volendam
So there are days when I thank the Internet gods because without the search engine and the swift connection to information about Nicholas Mosley that is available with a few keystrokes, I would never have “met” the man who remembers my father as “a steadfast presence.”