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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Great War Legacies


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My step-grandfather served in the 17th London in '15-'18. Grandpa moved to Australia after the war and later to San Francisco. His sole surviving son is my Uncle Al, who lives in California. He's married, haas three grown kids, and about a dozen grandchildren.

I'm named for Uncle Al's older brother, Peter Kosh, the first son of Albert F. Kosh and my grandma, Davina Prendergast/Eisen/Kosh. In '43 at age 8 Peter died of a congenital brain tumor coming out of the back of his head like a baseball, probably caused by grandpa's exposure to German mustard agent during the Great War. Uncle Al had childhood polio but he grew out of it.

In '43 dad was a draftee in training at Camp Roberts, California. The last time he saw my Uncle Peter was on a weekend pass in '43, when the little kid way dying. Peter liked the military and was proud of dad for being in the army. When dad saluted the little dying boy lying in his deathbed, Peter returned it with a trembling uncertain hand.

Two or three weeks later dad was back at Camp Roberts. Because he read a lot of newspapers, his superiors asked him to teach a class on current events. While dad was on the platform teaching a battery of more than 100 men the first sergeant, who didn't like dad, walked in. Then he said, "Private Eisen, I'm sure the entire battery takes sympathy upon the occasion of the death of your brother Peter Kosh." Dad said he burst into tears in front of all those men.

When my parents named me Peter in October '52 grandma went ballistic because she didn't want to be reminded of the most painful episode of her life. I'm named for someone with a congenital brain abnormality.

Oh these WMDs, aren't they lovely, just other weapons in the arsensal.

It's been said before, but Great War casualties were not just statistics, they were traumatic to the families affected by it, and their results are still rippling through later generations, like a stone tossed in the water.

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