The Blind Darts Team (with thanks to Blind Veterans UK)

Blind darts player (thanks to the archives at Blind Veterans UK for the image)

A query landed on The Phraser, linked to a piece I wrote seven years ago about an organisation that supports blind veterans.

No, I thought when I read the question. Surely not.

Then I thought again. If I’ve learnt one thing it’s that you should never underestimate an old soldier.

Here’s the query:

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St Dunstan’s is gone – Blind Veterans UK is here

In the summer of 2012 I visited Blind Veterans UK. Its story fascinated me…this is what I found.

The Phraser

The logo for Blind Veterans UK The logo for Blind Veterans UK

Changing names is never easy. St Dunstan’s has had to move very carefully. Nearly a century old, and trusted by the blind, it shed its name in February to become Blind Veterans UK.

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Just nineteen – the words for winter and war are not easy

The 'in-box' at the Post Office (Photograph: Royal Mail courtesy of British Postal Museum & Archive)

The ‘in-box’ at the Post Office
(Photograph: Royal Mail courtesy of British Postal Museum & Archive)

Charlie was on active service and his little sister waited for news in Africa.   It was 1915 and nearly Christmas.

The letter below was what went into the envelope eventually, and the Post Office then made sure that it arrived where it was meant to.

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Letter from a Rhodes Scholar on the Western Front

The Cavalry grazing horses on the Western Front (Creative Commons) Photograph of the Western Front during the First World War. Official British war photographers took many for propaganda purposes. From the papers of Field Marshal (Earl) Haig (1861-1928). The Haig Papers also contain Douglas Haig’s diaries.

The Cavalry grazing horses on the Western Front (Creative Commons)
Photograph of the Western Front during the First World War. Official British war photographers took many for propaganda purposes.
From the papers of Field Marshal (Earl) Haig (1861-1928). The Haig Papers also contain Douglas Haig’s diaries.

It must have been hard to know what to say to your little sister in Africa when you were waiting to be sent into action during the First World War.

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Letter to a young girl in Africa from her brother on the Western Front

Lancelot Wise's drawing of his horse Joseph IV (July 1915) - on the Western Front

Lancelot Wise’s drawing of his horse Joseph IV (July 1915) – on the Western Front

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Remembering the Rhodesians: WW1 Letter from G Simpson based in Leeds to Billy on the Western Front

Men of the original Rhodesian Platoon of the King's Royal Rifle Corps (during the course of World War I, there were several such platoons). Taken in November 1914 at the KRRC training depot at Sheerness, Kent, before the platoon went to the Western Front. In the centre of the second row from the front sit the 16th Marquess of Winchester and the platoon's commanding officer, Captain John Banks Brady. The majority of the men pictured were killed in action, with most of the others severely wounded.

Men of the original Rhodesian Platoon of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps (during the course of World War I, there were several such platoons). Taken in November 1914 at the KRRC training depot at Sheerness, Kent, before the platoon went to the Western Front. In the centre of the second row from the front sit the 16th Marquess of Winchester and the platoon’s commanding officer, Captain John Banks Brady. The majority of the men pictured were killed in action, with most of the others severely wounded.

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Letter to Chrissie Wise, in Rhodesia, from the trenches of the First World War

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