1,568 Sawdust Hearts

Thanks to Cathy of Nanacathydotcom, I am taking part in a beautifully poignant Sawdust Heart project curated by Untangled Threads.

My Sawdust Heart is decorated in Memory of my Great Uncle, John Henry Absalom

who died, aged 17, on 10th July, 1916, in the Battle for Mametz Wood on the Somme in France. (photo courtesy of my second cousin HA)

His body was never found but his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, northern France, which commemorates 72,246 soldiers missing in action.

I ordered some organic cotton printed with Welsh Dragonssawdust heart

I found this project surprisingly difficult to do. Each time I started thinking about what to do I felt shaky and anxious.

My Grandfather was 11 when his beloved brother John left for France, never to return. My Grandfather never got over it and would talk to me of John with tears in his eyes. He hated anything to do with War, as did my father, who fought in the RAF in WW2.

In November 2016 I had the huge honour of being present at a very special ceremony at a school in Nailsea honouring the fallen, including my Great Uncle John.

Being born on Armistice Day has always held great meaning for me, and as a child, I thought of my birthday as Peace Day. I donate to the Poppy Appeal, but I wear a white poppy. My father was proud to fight in ‘A War to End All Wars’ ….. or so he thought ….. sadly human conflict continues.peace poppy

My initial ideas for the heart were far too complicated which meant every time I made a start I hit a hurdle. I did a trial run and decided that would be ‘good enough’, or it would never be finishedsawdust heart

At last it was ready to send.

In the back I tucked a copy of the letter John wrote home to his family

sawdust heart



France, 13th 1916


Dear Mother and All,

Received your most welcomed parcel safely everything was allright packed a treat.

You can imagine how glad I was to receive it, quite a change from our Army diet, hoping you will continue sending them the same, the battery fitted my flash lamp a treat. Received John Bull and Reynolds a few days ago. We have had glorious weather up to date with the exception of a few showers just what you can expect this month.

Our furlow have been cancelled for the time being, but I think we will get it shortly again as they tell me that they often cancel it out here and in a few weeks it starts again.

We are going back to the line again tonight but it is a very quiet place.

Now that the weather is coming we are much more comfortable wile in the trenches.

According to the papers the allies intending to advance all along the line. The sooner it comes the better. Well as we are barred from saying to much about our doings out here I will conclude hoping to find you all as it leaves me in the best of health.

Yours etc John

mind write by return JHA


Tomorrow I go with Cathy to the Armistice Commemoration gathering.





39 responses to “1,568 Sawdust Hearts

  1. Pingback: Tapestry Weaving Exhibition | Wild Daffodil

  2. Pingback: Friday photo challenge (week 52) Winter plus the Autumn / Winter roundup | Postcard from Gibraltar

  3. Hi there – I have just happened upon your lovely blog through Nana Cathy and was reading about the beautiful heart you made. When I read about who it was in remembrance of it is so like my story and I wonder if they fought in the same battle.
    My great Uncle William joined up as a volunteer and was in the West Yorkshire regiment (the Prince of Wales own). Sadly he was killed on the 10th day of the battle of the Somme, July 10th 1916 – only twelve days after his 20th birthday. My granddad always kept a picture of William in full uniform on the wall above the fireplace – pride of place – and he would fix a fresh poppy to the frame every November like a sprig of holly at Christmas. I wear my poppy in remembrance of William and on behalf of his mother Flo (my great gran) and his brother Ernest (my granddad) who are no longer here to put a poppy on his picture.
    My mum was given a necklace made by William for his mum (my mum’s grandma) in the trenches from rolled up Woodbine cigarette packets, sadly I am not sure any letters from him still exist.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so touching. Your Uncle has not died in vain. This heart will also help others/me included to remember. I do my best honor all of the soldiers we have lost that I see or hear about. Thoughts and prayers thanking God for their precious lives.I shared this post with my youngest teens. And tears came to my eyes as I first read this. Such a sweet kind caring life cut short. (((HUG))) Thank You for sharing his story.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gosh such a tragedy. You have created a lovely memorial to him. It is such a wonderful idea, and I imagine seeing all those hearts sewn in memory would be incredibly moving.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a human tragedy. 17. Such loss. Thank you for sharing this .
    Many happy returns for yesterday ( the same date as my sister in law)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a beautiful memorial to the young men who fought and died. War is such an ugly thing, and these hearts remind us of the individuals, and of their stories. So much potential lost, it is heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Tomorrow will be hard, but I wish you a peaceful heart. Your memorial is a beautiful one. One can only hope that one day there will be no more senseless war to take our beloved young. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Murtagh's Meadow

    Your heart is beautiful and the letter seems so poignant knowing your great uncle died so young.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I remember my uncle, my mother’s younger brother, coming home after WWII. She was heartbroken because he was not the same. He became a hobo and an alcoholic. War is devastating. I sympathize with your heartache. My mother was born on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 1918. She was a quiet, loving woman. I miss her more the older I get, and I am 71 this year. My father was born without his left hand, and he was angry with draft dodgers in the 60’s. I bless ALL Allied veterans. I thank them for their service. I know it is hard for you, but what an awesome gesture.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, gosh! This brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely, poignant project. With this post, you have taken a war that seems far away and instead have made it vivid and personal. Seventeen is just a boy. Too young, too young.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sandra, your heart is beautiful, both the sawdust and the actual. Over here we cannot imagine how deeply this affected and still affects your country and Europe. I can just remember a time in my childhood when poppies appeared for Armistice Day. It is thought of differently over here now, but I always Remember. Bless you both tomorrow. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Lisa at Greenbow

    Your heart really touched my heart.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I can just imagine the pressure you felt to make a perfect heart, to honor a good man (boy, really!) who made such a sacrifice. Your heart is perfect, as is every other heart in the exhibition, I’m sure. Too much fighting, too much dying . . . when will we ever learn?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I am in tears. What a beautiful heart, and a heart wrenching story. He looks so young, he was so young, far too young. Just a boy. I am so happy for you that you were able to do this, and with such a fitting and well thought out tribute to your Great Uncle John. He would be proud of you. I have watched the video on the home page of the project and shared it too.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. It is strange that the only other person I know, as well as us, expressed the same anxiety about our efforts not being good enough. It felt like a responsibility to honour the people who died with something worthy of their lives. You have done a great job and your Great Uncle would be proud. The letter is incredible, bless them all.
    The number of the hearts represents the number of days of the war, and that number displayed in this way is very moving. I can’t imagine what it would be like for the number of hearts to represent the number of lives lost.
    Bring your tissues tomorrow, we will need them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Cathy, and thank you again for alerting me to the project. I wonder what my Great Uncle would think of his great nieces paying tribute to him 100 years later. My cousins are all doing something in his honour.
      I’ll stuff tissues in every pocket!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m one who is deeply enraged by wars arranged by men in powerful places and carried out by the young and naive. I wish for a world where people no longer listen to the rhetoric and outright lies they are fed to inspire fear and hatred of other human beings and refuse to join the armed forces. They could go instead as aid workers to third world countries and other lands that are different in culture and religion and work there awhile, helping the locals and getting to know the unknown. Then such things as your beautiful hearts truly would honour those who were sacrificed in the war that ended all wars.
    It is more than heartbreaking to think of this young man of just 17 years, lost somewhere on a bloody battlefield and dying alone. A stolen life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You write so eloquently Pauline. Thank you.
      How can we as a species get rid of greed and the need to dominate and destroy – we really are doing our best to wipe ourselves out.


  18. Seventeen! He looks so heartbreakingly young in that photograph, especially if you picture him in civvies rather than in a uniform.
    What a wonderful commemoration of lost loved ones the sawdust hearts project is and the one you made is certainly more than ‘good enough’.

    Liked by 1 person

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