William Conway Thomas: “Everything Was Influenced by the War.”

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William Conway Thomas

Last week we featured the story of Arthur Smith, who had taken part in Norfolk Libraries’ Historypin Connections project and shared his memories of Norwich after the First World War. This week we are looking at the life story of William Conway Thomas who, like Arthur, was born in 1917 but grew up in Swansea, Wales. William first shared his memories with Historypin project coordinator Rachel Willis in 2016 on his local mobile library, which William visits regularly to pick up a new selection of audio books.

Although he was born towards the end of the First World War, William was able to recollect what life was like in the years immediately after in great detail . His stories give a fascinating insight into what every day life was like for people dealing with the aftermath of the conflict, how it affected families, and the noticeable impact that it left on communities. He can recall people talking about the War “all the time.”  

William’s father was lucky to escape being called up due to hearing loss, but his uncle served in France on the front lines for four years and saw “terrible times.” William remembers it changing him completely and having a huge effect on his personality and outlook on life. He kept shell cases and other war souvenirs on display as ornaments in his home, and he seemed to William to be unable to move on.

In the wider community William remembered the huge numbers of widows left to run households and raise families alone after the War. Listening to William’s childhood memories of his mother working incredibly hard to keep their home clean and the family fed gives a good idea of how difficult this would have been without a husband’s help.

William’s stories are available on the Connections: Norfolk website in audio form – have a listen here.


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