Saturday, 3 December 2016

Christmas Delights: Sepia Saturday

This week's  prompt of a German Christmas calendar has delightful illustrations of children enjoying themselves over the festive season - baking, painting, reading, sledging, and generally playing and having fun. 

No vintage photographs exist of my ancestors at Christmas
  so I have looked back instead at more recent times 

Granddaughter with her menagerie! 

 Another friend to join the collection ! 

 Best dress on show 

 Enjoying a good book! 

The serious artist at work!

Daughter All wrapped up for a winter ride! 

Mummy's little  helper in the kitchen

But at the end of the day, what is most fun!   Playing in the boxes of course!


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

Click HERE for more Christmas memories  from fellow bloggers 

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Herring Sandwich & Sago Jelly: Sepia Saturday War & Peace 6

What were your ancestors eating in Britain during the Second World War?  How do these dishes appeal.
    • Economy Omelet - made with dried egg.
    • Herring Sandwich
    • Savoury Bread Pudding - made with bread, suet and oatmeal
    • Savoury oatmeal pancakes - made with thick cold porridge.
    • Sago Jelly
    • Semolina Cake
        The dishes above  are among recipes that feature in a little booklet published during the Second World War by the Women's Guild in the village of Earlston in the Scottish Borders. (Ercildoune in the title was the old name for the village).

        Treats were not forgotten, with many biscuit recipes - ginger and oatmeal were favourites and a "Wartime Shortie"

        "Work 1 dessertspoonful of sugar into 4 ounces of margarine.  Add 1 cupful of flour and work in half a cupful of custard powder.  Roll our thinly and cut into rounds.  Bake in a slow oven. 

        Puddings seemed to require 3-4 hours of boiling/steaming and the prospect of a "Flourless Plum Pudding" was less appealing when I saw it was made with 3 tablespoons of tapioca.

        One recommended tip for prunes advised "No cooking or sugar required if they are soaked in water with a clove for two days."

        One ingredient predominated in the recipes - dried egg. Imported from the USA, it was the government response to a wartime shortage of fresh eggs. which were rationed in June 1942. Dried eggs were easily transported and were "non perishable". But they were universally hated, mainly due to not being reconstituted correctly. 

        Before the Second World War, Britain imported about 55 million tons of food a year from abroad and supply ships were an obvious target for German submarines. On 8th January 1940, rationing was introduced  to control the amount of everyday items people could buy in the shops and to ensure fair shares for all at a time of national shortage.
        Every man, woman and child was given a ration book with coupons. Housewives had to register with particular retailers.  to buy most rationed items - no supermarkets on those days. The shopkeeper was provided with enough food for registered customers. Purchasers had to take ration books with them when shopping, so the relevant coupon or coupons could be cancelled.  

        People were also encouraged to provide their own food at home. The 'Dig for Victory' campaign started in October 1939 and called for every man and woman to keep an allotment. Lawns and flower-beds were turned into vegetable gardens. Chickens, rabbits, goats and pigs were reared in town parks and gardens.

        Sample 1943 rations of basics for a week for 1 person:

        3 pints of milk
        3 1/4Ib - 1Ib meat
        1 egg a week or 1 packet of dried eggs (equal to 12) every 2 months
        3 to 4 oz cheese
        4 oz combined of bacon or ham
        2 oz tea, loose leaf
        8 oz sugar
        2 oz butter

        2 oz cooking fat 

        Although bread rationing ended 1948 and clothes  rationing a year later, it was 1954 before all  food stuff rationing finished. 

        The Earlston booklet had an introduction by the BBC "Radio Doctor" - Dr. Charles Hill who during the Second World War gave advice in a daily broadcast from the Ministry of Food called "Kitchen Front". His distinctive voice with his frankness & down to earth approach made him hugely popular.

        Chapters also featured on diet, child welfare, first aid, fresh air, care of the teeth, feet and hair.  In the  First Aid section, along  with the standard ailments of burns & scalds, shock, stings, bleeding nose, was something that perhaps reflected the rural life of the readers;

        "For  "Lime in the Eye" - bathe the eye with a weak solution of vinegar and water  (eight parts water to one vinegar),  Try to remove the lime with the corner of a handkerchief.   Put a drop  or two of caster oil into the eye".

        A Handy Hint advised " Keep potato peelings, for after being dried in the oven, they are useful for lighting fires instead of wood."

        And not forgetting livestock - there was a recipe for making "wet mash for domestic poultry" 

        The booklet is in the collection of "Auld Earlston" -my local historical society and is an example of the fascinating little local publications which can can be unearthed and add so much colour to writing about the lives of our ancestors. 


        Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories  through photographs.

         Click  HERE to see how other Sepia Saturday are commemorating 
        this month's theme of War and Peace.

        Saturday, 19 November 2016

        Reconciliation after A Wartime Air Crash


        73 years ago in March 1943  a German bomber crashed near my village of Earlston in the Scottish Borders, killing all four members of the crew.

        Last year,  Auld Earlston,   my local heritage group  received an enquiry from the  Aircrew Remembrance Society, who,   on behalf of the grandson of the pilot Paul Rogge (left),   was seeking information on the crash. 

        Local residents recalled the event, with some children taken to see the crash site, but they were too young to know any details.  

        However Auld Earlston  referred the Society to the Scottish Borders Archive Service at the Heritage Hub, Hawick, who were known to hold police records relating to wartime air crashes.  

        With sensitive sections omitted, the information from the Aircrew Remembrance Society website and the Heritage Hub, Hawick, forms  the basis of this tragic wartime story  - but one that ended in Reconciliation.

        The police report read:  
         "At midnight on the night of Wednesday/Thursday 24th/25th March 1943, I received the air raid warning "Red".  At that time aircraft could be heard overhead of Earlston.   Immediately after receiving this warning and passing  it onto the Civil Defence Services,  I went out on duty with Special Constable XXXX.  At about 0.10 hours,  when in the Market Place, I heard a burst of machine gun fire  right up overhead....... I heard a roar of aircraft  increasing to a high pitch.   I heard a second short burst of machine gun fire and   this was immediately followed by the abrupt cessation of the high pitch roar. ...there was a great flash of light, followed by a dull thud.     

        At about 0.30 hours we received a report from XXXXX of Fans Farm, Earlston  that he could see a number of small fires in a  field  and described them as like a stick of incendiary bomb burning........We located  the site on the  farm of Darllngfield, Earlston and  reaching this field we discovered a German aircraft.  It had apparently dived  straight into the ground and parts of it were still burning in a deep crater with parts strewn over a wide area.............All the aircrew were killed.   

        The bodies of the crew were  were removed by ambulance to the RAF station at  Charterthall;  personal property and documents were handed over intact to  to RAF Intelligence, Turnhouse,  Edinburgh

        The Aircrew Remembrance Society website relates:
         "On March 24th-25th 1943,  a German Junker plane was on a mission to attack Edinburgh.  This aircraft crashed at 0030 hours on 25.03.43 at Earlston near Melrose, Berwickshire. Map Ref: U.0756. The cause of the crash is obscure.
        The aircraft was heard flying fairly low and three witnesses stated that firing in the air was heard before It crashed and it was almost entirely destroyed or buried, the crew being killed. There are no reports of an interception in this area at the time of the crash. No bullet strikes can be found in the wreckage".

         On 2nd April 1943, "The Kelso Chronicle" featured a report headed  "Eight Bombers Down:  Enemy Attacks Parts of Scotland".  For reasons of wartime security, the actual detail given was very vague, but included a reference to:
        "Four miles from a small town in south east Scotland, where high explosives and incendiary bombs fell, some damage was caused.........Not far away, the wreckage of a burned out German plane was found, as well as parts of a propeller, an oxygen breathing apparatus and a German helmet."  
        All four members of the crew were killed, with the body of the gunner never found.  Their initial burial place was at nearby Fogo Churchyard, before being transferred to the German Military Cemetery in Staffordshire.

        Amazingly this photograph  of baby Irmtrud pictured at eight weeks old was found in the tunic pocket of pilot Paul Rogge.   All personal items were returned to his family  via the German Red Cross.

        Paul Rogge's  Family - daughters Siegrun and Irmtrud and his widow Gusti

        In Autumn 2015 a small memorial to the victims  was unveiled at the crash site in the  presence of the pilot's  grandson and daughter (the baby in the picture above) who had never known her father. The moving private ceremony was led by Earlston minister Rev. Julie Wood with representatives of the Earlston community present and from the Aircrew Remembrance Society.  From the occasion,  friendships were forged.

        In November this year.   Henning Hiesterman  the grandson of the pilot, Paul  Rogge, made a return visit to Earlston with members of the Aircrew Remembrance Society who were making a further investigation of the site.   

        A new plaque was placed at the simple memorial, in the presence of members of the Auld Earlston Group, who assisted in the original enquiry to trace more information on the crash. 

        It was a beautiful autumn afternoon, standing in the field, surrounded by the peaceful Borders countryside that 73  years earlier had witnessed a tragedy of wartime.  

        Henning (centre),  grandson of the pilot.  with members of the Auld Earlston Group

        Henning holding a portrait of his grandfather at the crash site.


        Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories  through photographs.

         Click  HERE to see how other Sepia Saturday are commemorating 
        this month's theme of War and Peace.

        Tuesday, 15 November 2016

        The American Civil War - Remembered in Edinburgh: Sepia Saturda 4

        This statue of Abraham  Lincoln  in Edinburgh  is  thought to be the only monument to the American Civil War outside the USA.  It was erected in the Old Carlton Burial Ground. Edinburgh in 1898 in memory of the Scottish soldiers who fought  in the American Civil War on the side of the Union.  It features a freed slave and  one of Lincoln’s famous quotations:
                  "To preserve the jewel of liberty in the framework of freedom".

        A bronze shield bears the old US flag, and is wreathed in thistles to the left, and cotton to the right to signify the two countries. 

        Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories  through photographs.

         Click  HERE to see how other Sepia Saturday are commemorating 
        this month's theme of War and Peace.

        Monday, 14 November 2016

        A Tragic Wartime Death - Revealed by New GRO Service

        I have just discovered, through a new service,  the sad cause of death of my great uncle who died in May 1917 aged 38  whilst training in army camp in Tiverton, Hampshire.  

        In a stark statement, the cause of death was given as "Cutting his throat whilst temporary insane" - a tragic ending for a man who had already experienced sadness in his life, when his  wife died of TB in 1906  aged just  21,  leaving their  baby daughter  motherless.  At 38 years old and as a family man, was the trauma of being catapulted from a small rural community  into military life, too much to bear? 

        We are so used to thinking it was young men who were called up to fight  in the First World War, but the
        Military Service Act of  January 1916 specified that single men aged 18 to 40 years old were liable to be called up for military service. This was rapidly extended in July of that year to include married men.  

        There were various conflicting family stories about my great uncle's death - talk that "Granny had to fight to get his name on the local war memorial", and a puzzle that his name did not appear on the memorial in the local parish church, but I was not prompted to acquire  his death certificate for this one piece of information.  

        However the General Register Office  of England and Wales have just offered for a trial period a new service of supplying information  from BMD certificates by PDF file - at the much more reasonable cost of £6.  This has been reported on various family history blogs.

        I must admit I did not immediately find the website user friendly, as there was nothing on the homepage highlighting this new service.   I eventually contacted their call centre which was  helpful  and talked me through the process. Apparently you just follow the normal procedure for ordering certificates, identifying the  volume no. and page no. from the relevant Index, and it is only as you  scroll down the payment options (standard/express etc.)  that you first get note of "by PDF File".

        Thereafter the service was excellent.  I quickly received a confirmation of my order and note that it would be dispatched 16th November.  In fact the file landed in my e-mails today November 14th - and is a very clear image of the register entry, 

        If you have ancestors in England and Wales, I would recommend using the service.   But for this trial period, there is a limit on the number of request that will be undertaken, so you do need to move quickly. 

        For me it has answered a  niggling gap in my family history knowledge - but one that is so sad. 


        Saturday, 12 November 2016

        REMEMBRANCE: Sepia Saturday - War and Peace 3.

        Tomorrow is Remembrance Sunday. From national memorials to small village crosses we pay tribute to those who were killed in war.

         The First Cenotaph Ceremony in London in 1920 in the presence of King George V 

        The Cenotaph in London began as a temporary structure erected for a peace parade following the end of the First World War,   but following an outpouring of national sentiment it was replaced in 1920 by a permanent structure and designated the United Kingdom's primary national war memorial.   Designed by Edwin Lutyens and built of Portland Stone,  the memorial was unveiled by King  George V  on 11 November 1920, the second anniversary of the end of the war. The unveiling ceremony for the Cenotaph was part of a larger procession bringing the Unknown Solider to be laid to rest in his tomb in Westminster Abbey.

        The term "Cenotaph" relates to a monument  to honour those who died,  whose bodies are buried elsewhere or have no known grave.

        The Cenotaph in 2007 following Remembrance Sunday

        Across Britain,  towns and villages 
        erected their own memorials

         Minto War Memorial, near Hawick in the Scottish Borders

        Taynuilt in Argyll, Scotland

        Clitheroe in  Lancashire

         Aberfeldy in Perthshire, Scotland 

        Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge in the Scottish Highlands.
         It overlooks the training areas of the Commando Training Depot
        established in 1942 at Achnacarry Castle.

        On the Isle of Arran, Scotland

        Earlston in the Scottish Borders

             Isle of Iona, looking across to Mull


        Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories  through photographs.

         Click  HERE to see how other Sepia Saturday are commemorating 
        this month's theme War and Peace.


        Monday, 7 November 2016

        The Sad Tale of Soldier Edward Ingram Stuart Smith

        There were over 3 million British  casualties in the First  World War. Of the men who survived, their suffering could include  physical injury including loss of limbs, blindness, effects of gas poisoning, and shell shock (what would now be  termed post- traumatic stress disorder),  Many would not  talk about the war  or forget the scenes they witnessed  but their experiences affected their lives ever after.

        One  such man was my cousin's paternal  grandfather Edward Stewart Ingram Smith (1871-1923).

         Edward Stewart Ingram Smith on the back row, far right 
        with his regiment Liverpool Scottish.  

        Edward's Early Life 

        Edward was a man of many parts -  boy soldier,  waiter, photographer,  and upholsterer.   In this photograph of him as a 20 year old young man, he has a sensitive and artistic air about him.

        Edward was born in 1871 in Ceres, Fife,  Scotland, eldest son of John Ingram Smith and Isabella (Ella) Edward.   His Ingram middle name came from  that of the minister in the Shetland Isles  who had  baptized his  father - and was one adopted by future generations of Smiths, who were very proud of their island heritage. 

        In his early childhood, Edward experienced several moves across country  as his father's hotel businesses failed.   

        Edward's daughter Ella  (who lived to the age of 99)  left notes relating how her father  wore the kilt until he was 17 years old, played the bagpipes and spoke Gaelic  He enjoyed art and painted in oils.  He was well educated  in Edinburgh and spoke with a soft lilting accent. 

        On leaving school, Edward joined the army as a  Gordon Highlander, but did not settle and was bought out by his parents. 

        By the time of the 1891 census, 20 year old Edward was  in Leeds where his father John  was manager at the Victoria Hotel.  Edward's occupation was listed as photographer. 

        A further move by the family followed, as by 1901  Edward was working as a waiter at the Belvedere Hotel, South Promenade, Blackpool, Lancashire.     In 1902 at Kirkham Registrar, near Blackpool,  Edward married Lily Beatrice Jones, 13 years his junior.   

         Four children were born to the marriage - Lily Ella, Arthur Stuart Ingram, Edith Florence and baby Edward who did not survive infancy.   Edward's interest in photographer is illustrated in the many delightful portraits he took of his children - with son Arthur,  in a "little Lord Fauntleroy"  outfit and a  mop of long fair curls.
        Ella, Edith and Arthur

        In the 1911 census, Edward's occupation was still given as photographer, but illness struck and Edward had to give it up.   He moved into upholstery, and eventually  opened up a furniture  business in Blackpool.

        Called up to Serve
        In 1915 at the age of 44, Edward, as a previously serving soldier,  was called up to return to the army. Determined to maintain his Scottish links,  he joined   the kilted Liverpool Scottish Regiment.  

         A serious looking family photograph, probably taken as Edward set out for war 
         with Arthur's hair shorn of its curls. . 

        The sporran that Edward is wearing in this photograph is still held by the family, 

        Edward served  in France, but was gassed and injured at the Battle of the  Somme. Wounded in action in the ferocious fighting in  the Battle of Delville Wood, (nicknamed Devil's Wood),  he was invalided back to England and hospitalised.   His daughter Ella related how he went to meet her  at the school gates and she did not recognize him, as his weight had dropped from 15 to 9. 

         Liverpool Scottish soldiers at Dellville  Wood.

        An Army Discharge Certificate (the first time I have come across one) and Military Award Records show that Edward received the War Medal, Victory Medal and the Silver War Badge  to denote that he had been wounded in action. 

         Edward's army discharge certificate.
        It is not a good image but I had never come across such a document before 
        and was keen to feature it here.  

        Life Post-War
        But following Edward's discharge,  family  life proved unhappy.  His mother died in July 1919 and at some point, he separated from his wife and childrenIn searching local newspapers for an item on Edward's war service, I came across this report   of 24 November 1919 in "The Lancashire Evening Post"  It made sad reading:

        One cannot  help reflect that having to return to active service at the age of 44 and face the harsh physical and mental conditions of the World War One battlefields took its toll on Edward, as on so many soldiers.   He died in 1923 aged 52.    His wife Lily survived him by a further 40 years and married for a second time.  

        The photograph below shows an older Edward Stuart Ingram Smith with haunting eyes and a dispirited air - a  far cry from the handsome young man of thirty years earlier.  


        Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories  through photographs.

         Click  HERE to see how other Sepia Saturday are commemorating 
        this month's theme War and Peace.