Friday, 4 September 2015

Surname Saturday-Seeking Sarah Haydon Lounds

Annie Danson, c.1908

Early death of a mother, an orphaned child (left) , bankruptcy,  suicide, plus a black sheep of the family,  mark the tale of Sarah Haydon Lounds.

Searching for Sarah was the challenge, when a cousin asked me to help trace information on  his maternal grandmother Sarah Haydon Lounds who married my great uncle John Danson (below) of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire
 


 

I used the standard online resources, to view original records, but found particularly valuable,   in giving a    rounded picture of an ancestor, press reports in The London Gazette and British Newspapers Online. 
 
KEY INITIAL FACTS

  • Sarah's family were known to have links with Lincolnshire  in East Anglia and there was some  kind of scandal with  a "black sheep" of the family who had been a servant in a large house.

  • Sarah and John's  daughter Annie Maria was born 14th January 1905, but  sadly a year later  Sarah died of TB on 12th February 1906, aged just 21, buried in Moorland Road Cemetery, Poulton - so born c.1884.

  • John and Annie  went to live with his  widowed mother Maria Danson, his  many brothers and only sister Jennie who was only eight years older than Annie. 
     
  • John, a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery  died in army camp at Tidworth, Hampshire  17th May 1917.  

  • Annie went onto marry and have two children, who knew little about their maternal grandmother's background.
KEY QUESTIONS

  1. What was Sarah's family background?
  2. What was the origin of her unusual middle name "Haydon"?
  3. How had  a young girl from Lincolnshire come to marry a Lancashire man?

SARAH'S PARENTS 

A search on www.ancestry.co.uk  quickly revealed  that the surname Lounds was very popular in Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. I soon traced an entry for a Sarah Haydon Lounds born Jan-March 1884 at Worksop, Nottinghamshire.   She was baptised at St. John's Church, Worksop, daughter of  George Haydon Lounds and Charlotte Ann Short, who had married in 1873. 


George Haydon Lounds was the eldest son of Haydon Lounds and Jane Beaver, born December 1853 at Bourne, Lincolnshire. He was consistently described in census returns as a coach painter.  He and Charlotte had six children Haydon (1873),  Jane (1875),  Emma (1877),  Willie (1879), Sarah (1884)  and Harold (1889).
 

On census night 1891,  7 year old  Sarah was at Spitallgate, Lincolnshire  with her grandparents Haydon (a coach builder)  and Jane Lounds.  Also in the household were uncles, aunt and another granddaughter Julia E. aged 3 who was later confirmed as  Sarah's  cousin.

HOW DID SARAH COME TO MEET JOHN DANSON OF POULTON, LANCASHIRE?
A brick wall arose in trying to find 17 year old Sarah  in the 1901 census on  Ancestry and almost  as a last resort  I tried googling "Haydon Lounds" to find the  reference below  which answered my  key question: 

Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerk Project featured the following entry  for 1898: 
13 Aug 1898 St Paul, Marton, Lancashire, England

Edward Jolly - 23 Joiner Bachelor of Bank Street, Poulton-le-Fylde
Jane Lounds - 22 Spinster of Blenheim Lodge, Whitegate Lane, Blackpool
Groom's Father: John Jolly, Joiner
Bride's Father: George Haydon Lounds, Coach-painter
Witness: John Rivers Jolly; Annie Jolly
Married by Licence by: J. Edwards, Offic. Min.
Register: Marriages 1897 - 1900, Page 17, Entry 33

This was intriguing, for the groom was a joiner from Poulton, as was  my great uncle John Danson and his father James, and there were photographs in the Danson family collection of an Annie Jolly. Moreover  the bride, Jane, was Sarah's sister.  Did Sarah meet her future husband at this wedding?    

 

I turned to the 1901 census to look for Edward and Jane Jolly  and found them at Queen Square, Poulton  - and there was Sarah, sister-in-law and a domestic servant.  On Ancestry her name had been wrongly transcribed as "Sounds"  not "Lounds" which was why I could not find it in my initial search.  

 

So I now knew Sarah's parents and grandparents, that her middle name came from her grandfather and how she came to be in Poulton to meet John Danson.   Though the question still remains -  what had prompted  sister Jane to move  160 miles north from her Lincolnshire home to Lancashire? 

 

WHERE DID THE "HAYDON" NAME COME FROM?  

i was still keen to find out the background to the  unusual Christian name of Haydon.  My first thought was that it  probably stemmed from a mother's maiden name - but we all know as family historians, not to make assumptions.  

 

I had Sarah's grandfather's likely birth year as c.1832 so looked up the 1841 census to trace a young Haydon Lounds aged around 9.   He was found with his family at Bourne, Lincolnshire with parents Thomas, a cottager, born, c 1791,  mother Sarah,  and 4 sisters,  Esther, Sarah, Eliza and Julia, and brother Thomas.  Father Thomas obviously prospered over the years, as in 1851 he was a farmer of 29 acres, and ten years later of 40 acres.  

 

A search for the marriage of Thomas and his wife Sarah was the next stage of research - and there was my answer -  on 24th October 1814 the marriage of Thomas Lounds and Sarah Haydon with the banns read at Corby, Lincolnshire and   Holywell, Lincolnshire.


Around the same time as Thomas and Sarah above married, there was also a marriage in Lincolnshire of a Thomas Lounds and a Mary Lamb and many people cite them as Haydon's parents on the online trees in Ancestry.  However I have discounted this as the correct record,  as none of the  female descendants were called Mary, and the Sarah Haydon link is so powerful, given the way her maiden name and the Christian names of her children were continued down the generations and branches of the family.


THE SAD TALE OF SARAH'S GRANDFATHER, HAYDON LOUNDS 
 
Given that coach builder Haydon was a local tradesman, I sought to find more about his own life and work and searched The London Gazette and   British Newspapers Online   to trace a number of entries on Haydon.  It proved to be a tragic tale.  

The London Gazette:  22nd February 1855
"A petition for bankruptcy - hearing date 14th February 1855 has been filed against Haydon Lounds of Bourne in the county of Lincoln, coach builder and wheelwright......"  


Haydon could only have been about 23 years old at the  time of this bankruptcy and had married only two years previously,with  eldest son George Haydon (Sarah's father) born the same year.    However Haydon continued working in his trade, as indicated in the census returns 1861-1891 where he was described as "employed". Three daughters and six sons were born over  the next twenty years. Newspaper reports gave an insight into  Haydon as a respected member of the community, with  frequent reference to Haydon being among a company of bell ringers, who performed in church and at various social occasions, plus an award made to him by a Friendly Society. 

The Stamford Mercury:  12th July 1870"
"The Managers of the Hearts of Oak  Friendly Society, of London, have this week presented a handsome silver medal, bearing a suitable inscription, to Mr. Haydon Lounds, workman in the employ of Mr. Anderson, coach builder, of this town, for valuable assistance he has rendered for some time in inducing persons to become members of that institution".  

The Friendly Society was set up in 1842 with the aim of giving its members protection against distress through sickness.   It grew rapidly and a major collection of its records is now held at the National Archives

 The Stamford Mercury:  9th December 1870
  "A company of hand-bell ringers, under the direction of Mr. Haydon, Lounds, gave a very pleasing diversion"


The Grantham Journal:  27th November 1875
An effusive  report  on a Saturday evening concert at the Temperance Hall noted among the entertainers were 
"Mr. Haydon Lounds and his sons who gave immense satisfaction by their excellent manipulation at the hand bells; the various pieces played by them being received with enthusiastic manifestations of delight". 

However tragedy befell the family as reported below.  

Lincolnshire Chronicle Friday 27 March 1896

GRANTHAM - SUICIDE.  Mr Aubrey H. Malin, coroner, held an inquest into  the death of Haydon Lounds aged 65, a coach-body maker, who died on the previous day.  Arthur..... Lounds, son of the deceased, identified the body. Deceased had been suffering from white-lead colic for six weeks but had not stayed off work until the previous Wednesday.  Deceased of late had appeared in a rather depressed state.  He seemed to trouble about the idea of having to live upon his children.   William Deed, engine driver,  said he had known the deceased for about 20 years.  On Saturday at lunchtime, the witness was called to the deceased house.  In his bedroom, he found the deceased lying on his side, with his throat cut and a razor in his hand.  He had noticed that the deceased had been rather absent minded.  Dr. Paterson, attributed death to shock and exhaustion, due to loss of blood.  Verdict - Suicide whilst in a state of unsound mind."

So work for  40 years as a coach-body builder, resulted in Haydon suffering from lead poisoning and ended the life of this family man and supportive member of his community,  He was buried at Grantham Parish Church, Lincolnshire. 

WHAT OF THE BLACK SHEEP OF THE FAMILY?  
This is a classic "Downton Abbey" story  with a secret marriage and false census information. For it came to light that butler Haydon Lounds (Sarah's brother)  had secretly married heiress Miss Maud Ward Fox - the daughter of his employer, a wealthy widow.    Read all about it HERE in an earlier post. 

 

AND FINALLY - SARAH'S DAUGHTER,  ANNIE DANSON
Annie grew up with  her paternal grandmother's family   and on 4 October 1928 married Harry Ditchfield on 4 October 1928.  The local press report provided a colourful description of the wedding fashions of the day - Read   HERE in an earlier post "Gowned in Delphinium Blue" ,



Postscript:  "Searching for Sarah" was a  fascinating piece of research,  all conducted online.   It illustrates why family history is so compulsive a hobby. It  is just one example of  the stories that can be found in every family, both in happy and sad periods of their lives  and can lead us in so many diverse directions.


Adapted from a  post which was first  published in March 2014 
 on the website   Worldwide Genealogy Collaboration 

 
Surname Saturday is one of many daily prompts from Geneabloggers encouraging   bloggers to write about aspects of their family history.  

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Is There a Life Expectancy to a Blog?

I have just read the Big 04 post from Wendy of Jollett Etc. where she reviews her four years of blogging, when I suddenly realised that in August I  reached my 5th bloganniversary - and I almost let it pass me by. 

Looing back at the past year or so, made me ask myself the question " Is there a Life Expectancy to a Blog?

When I began my blogging journey  in August 2010, I thought I would exhaust my own family history material in about eighteen  months, but here I am still, thanks to Geneabloggers the many prompts and support of online colleagues. 

In my early days I was a avid reader of my blog statistics, but that went  overboard when I discovered spammers were playing havoc with my page views.  Now I rely on comments to gauge how  successful I have been in awakening interest.   

But like Wendy, I feel I have  got into a bit of a blogging rut, with Sepia Saturday  the only prompt I write regularly for - and even there I feel I am repeating material rather a lot.  Writing for Sepia Saturday in some ways spoils me, as there is such a  great tradition among contributors to comment on each others' posts, that in contrast it can be a bit disheartening when other writing receives little or no  acknowledgment.   

Photographs are in short supply for other branches of my family, and I must admit I have got too used to the idea that a good post  must feature photographs, especially when Geneabloggers now focuses on Pinterest to promote responses to its daily blogging prompts. 

But to look on the positive side, what have I achieved this past year?
  • I too completed my fourth A-Z Challenge  and already  have ideas for 2016.
  • Much of my blogging time has been spent on setting up and contributing to  a new blog  for my local heritage group in the Scottish Borders -  Auld Earlston.  I have enjoyed this challenge very much and am working hard to build up an audience.  It  has been gratifying to receive a request to join the One Place Studies Group.  The bonus here is that I can use some of this material on my personal blog - two hits for one lot of work must be good news! 
 So where do I go from here?
Last year I refreshed my blog appearance, responding to a prompt from Alex at Family History Frog   - this year I think content should be my focus.   So
  • Dust down my other research on other branches of the family  and hone in on my writing skills to create interesting posts, even where they do lack  photographs. 
     
  • Make more use of the resources on Geneabloggers.  My Reading List and number of Followers have remained static for some time, and as Wendy commented on her post, many bloggers fade off the scene.  So I must pay more attention to new blogs and broaden the ones I  read and comment on.  

So yes, I think there is yet  life left in my blog  - so do keep watching  this space!  


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Sepia Saturday - Memories of Bridges

Each week Sepia Saturday encourages bloggers to record their family history through photographs.  

There is no shortage of bridges in my photo albums, so here is a selection with the link of  family memories.    



My father and mother, John Weston and Kathleen Danson - taken in 1937  at Kirby
Lonsdale, where they got engaged.  This remained one of their favourite spots to visit.
 Kirby Lonsdale in Cumbria on the edge of the Lake District is a fascinating small town  with   a mix of  18th-century buildings and stone cottages huddled around quaint cobbled courtyards and narrow alleyways with names such as Salt Pie Lane and Jingling Lane.  The town is noted for the its three span Devil's Bridge, first built across the River Lune c.1370.  
My father  grew up in the village of Broseley, near Ironbridge, Shropshire, known as the birthplace of the industrial revolution with  the world's first ever cast iron bridge, built in 1779  over the River Severn. Dad's father worked at the power house at Coalbrookdale, which meant a 35 minute walk each way each day over the bridge.   The local historical society has been particularly helpful in my family history. The Ironbridge Gorge is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.   Photograph taken by my brother. Chris Weston. 



Two postcards of Le Pont Adolphe, Luxembourg
These photographs comes from my father's album.    During the war, Dad  served in the RAF Codes & Ciphers Branch and was seconded to General Bradley’s US 12th Army Group HQ.  He was stationed in Luxembourg in winter 1944 prior to  the Battle of the Bulge.    Dad  had fond memories of the city and the people he met there.

The Bridge, built between 1900 and 1903,  became an unofficial national symbol, representing Luxembourg's independence  and  was named after Grand Duke Adolphe who reigned Luxembourg from 1890 until 1905.   

On some 20 years  and here are my parents on the walkway of the newly opened Forth Road Bridge, spanning the Firth of Forth, near Ediinbugh with the historic Rail Bridge to the right,  We lived about 6 miles away  and it was my father's favourite Sunday outing to drive to South Queensferry to see how the bridge was progressing.   It was opened  by the Queen in September 1964 and replaced a centuries-old ferry service to carry vehicular traffic, cyclists, and pedestrians across the River Forth - a real bottleneck for everyone.   When the bridge opened,  it was the fourth biggest suspension bridge in the world and the longest outside the United States.

The adjacent Forth Rail Bridge,  opened in 1890,  is considered an iconic structure now given UNESCO World Heritage Site status. It continues to be the world's second-longest single cantilever span.

I am struck in this photograph  by the formal wear of my 56 year old mother - but oh so typical of the time - court shoes, handbag,  hat and gloves for what could have been a blustery walk.  

From family memories to bridges with historical interest.

I now live in the Scottish Borders - a region noted for its rolling hills and sparkling rivers - so naturally there are many bridges.   Here are just a few.

Chain Bridge at Melrose

 
The Chain Bridge at Melrose beneath  the Eildon Hills crosses the famous salmon river of the Tweed.   It was opened  in 1826 and conditions were imposed on  its use including the restraint that no more than eight people should be on it at any one time and  it  was a statutory office to make the bridge swing.  Since payment had to be made to cross the bridge, a ford downstream for horse drawn vehicles continued to be used by pedestrians for some time, with a box of stilts at each end of the ford for people to use for a safer journey,

Rennie's Bridge at Kelso 

 Another crossing of the River Tweed with the Rennie Bridge at Kelso. It was built in 1800-3 to replace one washed away in floods of 1797. Designed by John Rennie, it is an earlier and smaller scale version of the Waterloo Bridge, which he designed for London. The Toll House, where the payment had to be made, was the scene of a riot in 1854, when the locals  objected to continuing to pay the tolls when the building costs had been long cleared. It still took three years for tolls to be withdrawn. This narrow bridge  remained the only bridge across the Tweed at Kelso until the building of a new one in 1998 to the east of the town.  

Leaderfoot Viaduct 



The 19 span Leaderfoot Railway Viaduct  is 3 miles from my home and crosses over the River Tweed, near Melrose.   It  was built in 1863, with trains running until the line closed in  1965.  The structure is now in the care of Historic Scotland.     A Roman bridge once crossed the Tweed here, conveying Dere Street north from the nearby fort of Trimontium. 


Craigsford Bridge, Earlston

The old  bridge at Earlston,was built in  1737  over the Leader Water which joins the famous River Tweed at Leaderfoot (the previous photo above). It remained the main road north and south until the building of the turnpike road which became the now busy A68.   A view from my daughter's nearby cottage. 

Carolside Bridge, near Earlston


Taken on a hill walk, here we  look down on 18th century Carolside Bridge that spans the Leader Water and links two private estates Carolside and Leadervale, near Earlston.

And to finish one of my favourite photographs of a bridge - it is neither  old nor in the Scottish Borders, but it brings back memories of a happy holiday in the West Highlands.  


The Skye Road Bridge.  It  cannot be called historic, as it only opened in 1995, but the island is an iconic  symbol of Scotland's history.  The bridge across Loch Alsh links Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland with Kyleakin on Skye  with one pillar  on the small island of Eilean Ban. 

And if you  hanker after the romantic route of "Over the Sea to Skye"  you can still cross by ferry from Mallaig to the south of the island at Armadale.  

Copyright © 2015 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved



Click here to find what stories of bridges
other Sepia Saturday  blogger's have discovered. 

Friday, 28 August 2015

Sepia Saturday - A Crowded Journey

Sepia Saturday gives bloggers the opportunity to share their family history through photographs. 





A classic match for the prompt photograph begins this tale of crowded journeys, thanks to my local heritage group in the Scottish Borders  Auld Earlston.  



 In 1907 Earlston Parish Church Choir  set out from the Red Lion Hotel for a day's outing  to Yarrow Manse  - a 16 mile journey through the Borders countryside of rolling hills and river. 

I did wonder why they had chosen this form of transport all the way, as they could have got a train from Earlston for part of the journey  and then taken up the horse drawn vehicle to reach  the small village of Yarrow.   The choir seemed to be dressed in light summer attire, so hopefully it would be a dry day as there was no protection from the elements.    The group  look rather solemn in the photograph below - not surprising if they faced the long bumpy journey back home. 






Another crowded wagonette is in the background of this photograph, ready to set off from the Bull Hotel in Poulton-le-Fylde, for the three mile journey to Blackpool, Lancashire.   My great uncle Bob is the slight figure in the peaked cap standing on the left in front of the horsedrawn bus. He was a postman, the third son (of seven brothers and one sister)  of James Danson and Maria Rawcliffe of Poulton-le-Fylde,  born on 3rd June 1881, and most probably named after his maternal grandfather Robert Rawcliffe.  

I was pleased to see  that the British Postal Service Appointment Books had been made available on www.ancestry.co.uk, and upgraded my subscription to view the records.   It is always fascinating to see an original record relating to an ancestor, but to be honest they gave little information besides recording his name and appointment in  1907 in Preston as a Rural Postman with a further entry showing  his appointment  as postman in Blackpool in May 1925.  

His daughter Irene  presents a much more colourful picture of his work and recollects that:

"He went a long way on his bicycle from Poulton over Shard Bridge [where his grandfather Henry Danson had been a toll keeper] to deliver the post over Wyre.  He had a little hut at Presall where he had to wait until it was time to do the collections and then ride all the way back to Poulton.

In later years he worked from Blackpool General Post Office where his round was North Promenade and the Cliffs - very windy, but it seems the hotel people looked after him with cups of tea now and again. 

He was told at the oubreak of the First World War when his five brothers were joining the army, that he had a bad heart.   But work must have kept him fit, as he lived to be 89 years old and died in 1970."


Great Uncle Bob in 1929 at the wedding of his only sister Jennie.
A move to four wheels for this family picture, which first appeared on my blog some years back. 


The postcard was in the  collection of my Great Aunt Jennie of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, and judging by the style of dress |(especially the cloche hats, and  the little girl standing up), it  must have been taken in the 1920's.  There was no inscription on the reverse, but the photographer/publisher was identified as Arthur Hadley,  Photographer, Ramsey, Isle of Man and there is the famous three legged Manx sign on the side of the vehicle.   This could be a clue, as one of Jennie's many brothers. Albert, worked on the Isle of Man ferry between Fleetwood,  Lancashire and the Isle of Man.   

I like it as a happy holiday photograph,  though I wonder how safe I would find the vehicle with so many people on it.    I could imagine someone might need to get out and push,  if going up hills!  

Finally back to Earlston and  a crowded journey of a different kind - with a  heavily  overloaded hay cart approaching the Market Square. 




Click HERE to discover more journeys from Sepia Saturday bloggers. 

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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Sepia Saturday - Eating Out Memories



Sepia Saturday gives bloggers the opportunity to share their family history through photographs. 


Eating out in France.


Cafes & Canteens is the theme of this week's Sepia Saturday prompt, and I cannot  remember ever as a child going for a meal to a cafe or restaurant.  I grew up in the 1950's and we simply never ate out.  I don't think we were unusual - people just did not do it, when you could eat at home. 

We lived then in the north west seaside resort of Blackpool, so there was an abundance of cafes and fish and chip shops - but they were there for visitors, not for us.  My only memory is of a regular Saturday afternoon trip with my mother  into town to meet my Aunt Edith at a cafe that specialised in icecream from the local Palatine Dairy.   

In my  early teens we moved to York,  and again I have no recollections of eating out. This must  have been the time of the coffee bar culture, but that passed me by, and at weekends I met friends at my home or theirs. There was no "just hanging out". 


By my late teens we were living in Edinburgh and I remember going for a birthday treat with my mother to the Chocolate House (long since gone) on Princes Street.  (I remain a chocoholic!)   There was also the tea room at PT's (Patrick Thomson's) department store on the North Bridge, where it was all very genteel with soft music playing and waitresses serving.  

I suppose my first experience of eating out must have been school dinners.


Like most people I hated them, especially the fatty meat, liver, red cabbage, sprouts and anything with hot milk such as custard and the milk puddings - rice, tapioca (nicknamed frog spawn or fish eye pud!) and semolina where I tried to eke out the miserable spoonful of jam to disguise the awful taste.  Also among my dislikes,  soggy bread & butter pudding  and Queen's pudding (apart from the meringue topping),  Menus did not seem to change much over my 13 years of school life. Fly pie (current slices), chip butties and kilted sausages were my few favourite. 

As an impoverished student, I lived off beans and chips for lunch (1s.6d) as the cheapest item on the refectory menu.  Meeting friends,  we would go to a  a Wimpy Bar and make one coca-cola last all evening.

Now eating out is one of our great regular pleasures, not just for special occasions such as birthdays, wedding anniversaries or family visits,  but to enjoy a relaxing lunch in a pub, bistro or country house hotel.  

Eating out on holidays abroad is extra special, especially if it is out of doors (we don't get much chance of that in Scotland)   and we are extremely partial in Bavaria and Austria. to visiting "Konditorei" (the equivalent to  French patisserie) .

A sign at our hotel in Berchtesgarten. Bavaria.  

I was an avid reader in my early teens of the Chalet Scghool stories, set in the Austrian Tyrol where having "Kaffee und Kuchen" seemed to be a favourite phrase.  It was not until I learned German at school that I realised the correct pronunciation - "und" was "unt" and the ch in Kuchen was as  in "loch" not as in "chips" 

By the time we went to Austria I could order from the amazing selection of delicious cakes and pastries at the Cafe/Konditorei Zauner, founded in 1832 in the spa town of Bad Ischl,  It more than met my expectations of an elegant, old fashioned  Viennese style cafe. 


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We indulged!  

Click HERE to see  other bloggers enjoyed  the cafe culture.  

Copyright © 2015 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserv



Sunday, 16 August 2015

Military Monday - A POW's Lonely Homecoming.

We have been watching on television the moving ceremonies in London to mark VJ. Day and the release of the Japanese prisoners of war.  I was immediately drawn back to my father's account of  his brother Charles.

The telegram sent in September 1945 to my father from his brother, Charles Weston
  released from Japanese prisoner of war camp. 


Charles'  story is  told in the poignant  words of my father who wrote down his  memories for me.  

"Uncle Charles (right) was a POW on the Bridge of the River Kwai — at least it was a bridge when the hundreds of POWs had finished it. Conditions were dreadful, 100s died through lack of food, mostly slops, no solids. Charles had beri-beri, dysentery, ulcers and malaria. 

After the atomic bomb fell on Japan,  the POWs on the bridge were taken to Singapore and stayed in Changhai Jail until shipped home. My Mum and Dad never expected to see him again.

 In 1942 they got a card through the Red Cross — from the War Minister which read “Regret to inform you that your son has been posted missing”. Dad packed up work and the news broke him — he was never the same again.

 It was at Christmas 1943 that Mum got a card from the Red Cross with a few words “I am safe and well” — “Safe” yes…..”Well” -  Certainly Not. 

In August 45, lists of Japanese P.O.W.s  were coming out and I was looking for Charles'  name. 

I was so sorry for Charles, as he arrived in Liverpool with no-one able to meet him. I was in Burma and my mother could not leave my Dad.   You were just a baby and Mum was miles away and could not go.  It was lonely homecoming for a POW".


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Charles (left)  and my father John Weston were close as brothers and had these nicknames for one another  -  "Ace"  and "Mel".  Unfortunately I failed to ask my father about the origin of the names and neither my cousin Janice nor I  have been able to find out anything.   Were Mel and Ace popular radio characters, for instance?   I would love to know, if anyone out there has any idea? 

Below   is a long letter Charles wrote to my father in November 1945.    It starts "Dear Mel" and is signed "Keep batting - Ace".





Brothers - John and Charles Weston. c.1936




A year after the war, it was  a happier time when Charles married Vera Botell in December 1946. 


I am the shivering little bridesmaid,
standing in front of my parents.


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This story has appeared before on my blog, but I am pleased to publish it again as a tribute to all those who suffered in the war in the Far East.

Military Monday is just one of many daily prompts from Geneabloggers
 to encourage bloggers to record their family history.  

Copyright © 2015 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved.