Stories My Mother Told Me – Part One

Mum C1922 with one of her grandmothers.

Mum C1922 with one of her grandmothers.

My grandfather was in the British army for many years and in the 1920s early 1930s he was posted overseas. My grandmother and their five children travelled with him, first to Malta, then Egypt and finally to India returning to England around 1934. My mother often used to tell me about those years which she obviously thoroughly enjoyed. How I wish that I could remember more of it now that she’s gone. Here are a few stories that I do remember.

My grandfather, from a painting probably done in the 1930s

My grandfather, from a painting probably done in the 1930s

A Christmas Carol

Mum was born on Christmas Day 1921 in Hounslow where my grandparents lived in the barracks Married Quarters. She used to enjoy telling the story of how her mother was in the middle of preparing the goose for Christmas dinner when she went into labour. I never found out if the family sat down to the meal without her or who finished cooking it. Naturally the baby was named Carol.  Mum was the youngest of the five; her eldest sister Marjorie was born in 1914 and brother Dennis in 1915. Grandfather went off to War and after he came back from France twins Daphne and Gladys were born in December 1919. The story goes that when the babies were born Gladys, the smaller of the two babies was abandoned by the midwife who did not expect her to live. My grandfather took over her care and fed her using a fountain pen as a bottle. She survived and thrived  but was always much shorter than her sister which gained her the nickname of Tiny.

Hello King!

King George V. Wikimedia, Public Domain.

King George V. Wikimedia, Public Domain.

Mum was only four  years old when my grandfather was posted to Malta.  I have a hazy memory that she told me that before that they were in Jersey for a while. She was only a baby and didn’t remember it herself but she did tell me an amusing story about when the King visited the barracks where they lived. Supposedly aunty Tiny and aunty Daphne stepped out from the crowd as he passed by and said “Hello King”. I don’t know if that is actually true.  The story may be based on the fact that King George V and Queen Mary did make a Royal Visit to Jersey in July 1921. This was before mum was born but her sisters would have been about eighteen months old. If they were talking then they must have been pretty precocious children. There is no mention in the attached wiki of whether the King was accosted by two small girls.



 Female_Macaque_with_young_suckling © Gibmetal77 / Wikimedia Commons

Female_Macaque_with_young_suckling © Gibmetal77 / Wikimedia Commons



Monkey Business

Mum shared another memory of her early years. A visit to Gibraltar when the family was en route to Malta where she saw the famous apes that live there. They are called Barbary Macaques (Macaca Sylvanus) and at that time there was a saying that if the Apes left Gibraltar so would the British. As a four year old all my mum knew was that she wanted a monkey of her own and monkeys remained her favourite animal for her entire life. I still have a collection of china monkeys that belonged to her as she was often given them as gifts.

You can read more about Gibraltar and its famous inhabitants here.

Photo description below. Here is a link to the photographer’s Wikimedia page.


English: Female barbary macaque with young suckling at Mediterranean Steps, en:Gibraltar.
Date 2007-10-14 (original upload date)
Source Transfered from en.wikipedia
Author Original uploader was Gibmetal77 at en.wikipedia
(Reusing this file)
CC-BY-SA-3.0,2.5,2.0,1.0; Released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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