My father was only guilty of the sin of being born an illegitimate
child of the privileged class. On his fathers side they were
shipbuilders. Their last name was Cooper. His father had an affair
with the gardeners red-haired daughter and the offspring of
that mismatch was my father. His fathers family did right by
him and found a couple who were willing to emigrate to Canada, taking
the little William with them.
Ive always had a question in my mind as to whether his adopted
mother might have been his real mother since she also had red hair.
In any case, they emigrated to Canada. Bill was a toddler at the time.
He was running about on the deck of the ship with a lollipop in his
mouth and fell and jammed it down his throat. He survived. They got
to Canada and settled in Mount Forest, Ontario. He was raised as their
own child but when he was about fifteen he found out he was a love
child and that was a big deal in those days. His adopted mother
or father must have spoken to someone in confidence and the word got
Bill was mortified and ashamed. He used to doodle around on the piano
when he was disturbed and didnt want to talk. His adopted mother
talked to him from behind the piano bench. He told her he had decided
to join the Army. He was only 14 or 15 at the time, so he had to have
her permission and, somewhat reluctantly, she gave it. He had to stay
in school for another year until he was sixteen.
When his Mum packed his bags to go over to England to join the British
Army for WWI, she he rolled up the name and address of his fathers
family in a pair of socks she knew he wouldnt unroll for a while.
When he got to England he found the information in the rolled up socks
and contacted the old boy. His granddad, was about all
that was left of the family because it was the custom in WWI to put
the officers in front of the troops where they promptly got shot.
There werent any young males left in that family, They had all
been killed. My dad was the only one left of the younger generation
but he was a wild lad. Were it not for that he might have come into
some money and recognition but, as I say, they found him a bit wild,
so it didnt happen. The granddad found him a Commission in the
Channel Patrol which later became the R.A.F. This is why he ended
up in the Air Force in both wars.
This secret was kept very close. He told his wife, our mother, and
she passed it on to us. There are mysteries attached to the story.
I tried to get information from his British war records but most of
the stuff usually listed there was missing. We do have his blackthorn
walking stick. Someone attacked him with the blackthorn stick when
he was posted over in Ireland during The Troubles, the
Irish Rebellion. Ive still got the cane with the blackthorns
sticking out of it and its hanging on my wall, a bit cracked
from age. My dad used it as a cane in later years because he had a
war injury that he got in WWII.
THE SMELLY GHOST
Sometimes, in WWI, soldiers were billeted in fairly palatial quarters,
not always, just sometimes. In Ireland, it was a place called Lep
Castle. Not sure of its location but I know its reputation.
Lep or Leap Castle had a great tower and there was a hole in the top
that went from the top down to the dungeon. In the bad old feudal
days if the Lord of the Manor or Castle didnt like someone they
were marched to the top and invited to leap down the hole and be dashed
to pieces below. That was why it was called Lep or Leap Castle. This
same place had a peculiar, smelly ghost. It made noise too but that
was not its most noticeable feature. The lads billeted there were
sitting down to dinner one time and the Lord of the Manor was present.
They heard noises and bangs, then a really dreadful smell. They all
looked at one another and the Lord of the Manor said, Dont
pay any mind to that. Its just the ghost. Hes a smelly
ghost. First Ive heard of such but apparently, they do
I dont know too much about my dads WWII services. He was
a Bombing and Gunnery Instructor on this side of the pond being a
bit old for active duty. At one point in time he was on a plane, a
training flight I believe. The plane went down and everybody in the
plane was killed except my Dad, Thats where he got the leg injury
that he used the blackthorn stick cane for. He never quite got over
that deadly crash. It was a kind of Why me? Why did I survive?
Everybody else is gone kind of thing. Those who have had similar
experiences can relate to this. I can only tell the tale. It affected
him. He would go into depression sometimes and go into his basement
den and listen to Bach and Opera and just get away from it all.
He was a good man and a good father, very honourable. He raised us
well. There were four of us children and my brother, Brock, was the