Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Never to be forgotten

John McKelvie was my mum’s fiancĂ© and her one true love …always in her thoughts till the day she died.

He had volunteered for the Air force as soon as war broke out, much to mums annoyance and after training, was given the dangerous position of rear gunner. He was soon told of his promotion to sergeant and that he was to become an instructor, reducing the chances of flying missions. This being the case both John and Mum felt more confident of their future and they dared to think of marriage plans, maybe on his next leave.

At the end of June 1940 Mum was informed that he was missing in action …. from the 17th …she was devastated but did not give up hope over the months that followed, often walking where they walked together and praying for his safe return, imagining him being a prisoner of war.

At the end of December the grave news came that he had been killed on the 17th June and buried on the 24th, at St Nazaire. Mum told me that he had been thought to have been on the troop ship ‘Lancastria’, when it was bombed and sunk, so had actually survived some conflict in the air before hand.

This was all that she knew … and I certainly had never heard of the ship and its sinking … so when I was reading and transcribing mums notes and memories, that I had persuaded her to commit to paper a few years before her death, I did some research.

He was on the list of those lost on the ship and probably was below deck in line for a direct hit. It is a tragedy that was hidden from the British public, for fear it would damage moral at a difficult time ….a Churchill cover-up. There is a book well worth reading….The Sinking of the Lancastria by Jonathan Fenby ….. if you are interested …. but facts that should be known are that if you add the number of dead from the Lusitania and those from the Titanic, together, you still have not reached the suspected total of lives lost from the sinking of Lancastria and this occurred only two weeks after the well documented, Operation Dynamo…..which every one knows as the evacuation of the troops from Normandy beaches.

John may not hold any ties to me but I do not want him or the Lancastria, forgotten …. so this LO will proudly sit within my FH album as a reminder for any that look through, in the years to come..

My Great Grandmother Isabella Ritchie nee Crombie

Isabella Ritchie ...nee Crombie.
…know as Granny Crombie by my mum.
Born the 7th daughter/eighth and youngest child ….7/8/1841 in Collessie
Died 2/11/1920 in Cupar
This is my Mums memory of her, when she was three …. in her own words….
…..She looked so grumpy and rather frightening, sitting in the basket chair by the range, dressed head to toe in black. Her black bonnet, which was tightly tied by ribbons under her chin, remained on her head through out the whole visit. Mother tried to persuade me to come out from under the table but to no avail. After some time Granny Crombie produced some paper, which she then twisted into cones and filled with sweeties. It was mesmerizing watching her make these pokes from my place of safety, but finally I allowed her to coax me out. To my surprise she spoke to me with a soft and gentle voice and her face no longer looked grumpy ….
Her son William wrote about her, soon after her death in 1920 .... I am so lucky to have the draft of his article … these are some snippets that give some insights into her character.
…She was by nature secretive, reticent and very reserved. She enjoyed a few select intimate friends of her own choice but during the years of the war she seemed to discard her local friends, …..
…..From her long weekly letters to me- often running into four foolscap pages with several post scripts in order to use every inch of the paper, she seemed to have assumed the responsibility of a statesman. She was so serious and critical on political and military matters and would discourse also on local affairs, industrial unrest, cost of living, shop bargains and prospective Cupar marriages …..
…Her sole literature was her Bible and her newspaper. Her greatest luxury was to peruse this journal from cover to cover …
….It might surprise the citizens of the country town to know that she knew and could name nearly every man woman and child in Cupar because everyone was obliged to pass and re-pass her turret window …..
…. She loved to admire nice looking people as they strutted across her ‘stage’ and remark upon them. She was amusingly critical about the modern ladies fashions in dress, millenary and manners …
It is interesting to me to read the first three words of description of his mother as it could be describing my own mum. … and the fact of having a tiny number of select close friend is me and mum to a tee. …obviously a family trait.
Hope you feel you know her too.
Take Care

Monday, 19 April 2010

Edith Frances .... my Great Aunt

Edith Frances Mobsby ...nee BULLOCK ...b 1867... m1900.... d1949

Edith was the third of George and Emma Bullock's children. Sadly her first two siblings had died before she was born. Ada Sophronia was just one and Ralph Yelland, barely two. A year after his death, Edith arrived ...how her parents must have worried...would she too be taken from them? She survived and was joined by a little brother, Horace Yelland, seven years later. (My Grandfather). It was told to me that George had been a church organist but I have no evidence of this. Both of the children were encouraged to play an instrument, Edith ... Piano and Horace ... Cello and as a result of George's encouragement and their hard work, they became accomplished musicians.
I feel that Edith was special to her father and so when she started to ' walk out' with Herbert Mobsby he was not a happy man. He did not approve of her choice of future husband and tried to discourage the match ...wanting her to pursue her music. Edith, however, chose Herbert which ...it is said ... resulted in her father refusing to attend their wedding in 1900. She was 33 so he could not forbid it but it has been said that he totally cut her off. This might be the case but in George's will he did in fact leave her several properties that he owned but worded it in such a way, that Herbert himself could never gain from any inheritance Edith would receive. They had a daughter Irene and a son Eric but the two halves of the family never had much to do with each other and after Horace moved to Scotland, in 1916, I do not think he ever saw his sister or any part of her family again.

This year ...nearly 100 years on ....I have made contact with Irene's son. We found that through out most of our lives we managed to live only a stones throw away from each other but knew nothing of each others existance. Now we have exchanged some family history and tied up loose ends....small world.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Dr Reginald Yelland Bullock 1914-1963

Reginald Yelland Bullock was my uncle …my Mums elder brother.

It’s strange what you learn about people after they are gone. His son, who I recently met for the first time in over 30 years, always thought his father had been born in Scotland ... when he actually had been born in London. During the ‘get together’ we reminisced over our youth, he talked about his life in New Zealand and about his father who Mike sadly lost when he was only 17 … and I filled him in on our Family history.

What I didn’t know was that, although he was a wonderful conscientious Doctor …adored by his patients …he never actually wanted to be one. His love was apparently music …cello like his father but his mother (Euphemia) said it was not a proper job …it was for pleasure. I found it strange because her late husband, Horace, had been a cellist and taught at home. Horace did have an inherited private income, which I suppose made a difference but maybe being forced to do something his heart was not in, is why Reg grew away from his mother after the war years …. along with her disapproval of his choice of wife ….well no one was really good enough for any of her children.

He had studied hard at St Andrews and the only exams he failed were his finals, which he had to retake after being banished to a tent in the garden in order to avoid any outside influences, which might distract him. After he passed it was not long before he had to go to war, serving on the Hospital ship ABA and finally his theatre of war was to be North Africa …..his final rank being Captain.

I found letters amongst Mums papers, that had been sent to my Nana and it could be seen that, as the war years progressed, there were more censored black lines than actual text … how I wish they had not become miss placed in the move up here.

He never let on how ill he had been during that time until much later and I remember that after his death in 1963, Auntie Pat found papers showing that he had been ‘mentioned in dispatches’. He was not one to brag … business like, yet caring, in his work … and always seemed to be the life and soul of any party or gathering. His smile was like that of a mischievous lad and his laugh was so infectious the latter often heightened by ‘a wee dram’..