Things I should have known

Was going to write this, my 2nd Blog mostly about The 1753 Cookery Book that I have, just to introduce you all to it………
BUT yesterday changed all that, a surprising thing happened, I spent the day with my Mum who is just 89 years old and has been in Hospital, and now Respite care since 8th Dec 2010, she went in with a virus etc, and its taking a good while to get her fit again, she was adamant that she could cope again now at home, so was insisting that I got her out ! After a very long day and good chats with Physiotherapist & Occupational Therapist & Nurses to sort out more exercise, different food that she WILL eat and few more home comforts we won the battle. She is staying in till next Wednesday, then she will have care coming to her at home to help her cope.
Sorry Waffling on………
But that’s not the surprising thing, during the day we were chatting in between waiting for different people, and I probably like lots of other Family Historians have always got a notebook & pen in my bag, and remembered that I forgot to ask her last week when I saw her the names of the Schools she went to as a kid, living in Hammersmith & Southall (for my records) so after we got that info written down, she carried on Waffling (must be where I get it from) and it turns out that when WW2 broke out, she was 17 and working in a factory, she went and volunteered to be an ARP warden, apparently there were about one and a half million volunteers like my Mum who served Part Time, and still held their Full Time paid jobs, she said she remembers wearing what they called a ‘Siren Suit’ an all in one sort of jump suit, that most of the Women volunteers wore, she’s a bit fuzzy over any more details of the job, but I am hoping she might remember more by next week when I see her, it will I hope have got her thinking……I was astonished by this fact because I never knew, I obviously didn’t ask the right questions before when I have asked her about her past.
Then we carried on talking a bit later after lunch and she was talking about her 3 sisters, she was the 2nd born. She spoke about her sister Lily the 3rd born, and said ‘of course Lily kept writing to Arthur’ (her Husband to be) ‘when he was abroad’ So I said oh yes I remember you telling me, when he was in Korea ? And she said ‘ and when he was a prisoner of war, taken by the Japanese, of course you knew Arthur was one of the prisoners who built the Burma to Siam Railway, he was prisoner for a few years, thousands died, and when he was released they brought them back by ship to feed them up before their families saw them, he always said he ate tons of Marmite, cause they thought it would give them lots vitamins and build them up’…………woooooow I thought, NO NO NO I didn’t know that, why didn’t I know that, crikey, I was just astonished.
All I know about this is what I remember seeing and was depicted in the famous film ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’
So as a result of all this I have lots more investigating to do about these things, I shall now have a natter with my Aunt Lily, and find out more info I hope about Uncle Arthur, what regiment of the Army he was in , when he came home etc, thankfully all three of her sisters are still with us AND it has taught me a very valuable lesson, never, ever assume you know everything about your immediate family, keep talking, keep asking about the old times, about their siblings, their schools, their friends, their jobs, you just never know what facts they might have forgotten about to tell you, which can lead to lots more info for your Family History files. These things I should have known !
I now also have a very good New Year resolution that I will carry through, I will visit and have good chats with my Mum and her 3 sisters, the eldest Kitty will be 90 at the end of this month, and get all their info written down, I would so hate to be too late and for it not to be told or preserved for our Family in the future.


Till next time then………………..


  1. You're absolutely right! Keep asking until you get the answers you want. Perhaps you could try using a small tape recorder as well – you wouldn't miss any details and can maintain an uninterrupted conversation with your Mum.

    My father had loads of wartime memories but then I was too young to appreciate the importance of his tales. I've forgotten the details and have no other concrete records, and now that he's gone, a whole chunk of family history is gone too.

    Would you write a second blog on your family history? Also, is there a local oral history society in your area? They could help you in documenting/presenting your findings or help with further contacts.

    Thanks for sharing your personal history here in cyberspace – I enjoyed reading it very much! And “get well soon” wishes for your Mum.


  2. Thanks for your comment Elizabeth, glad you liked it. Have thought about taperecorder, but never got around to getting one, very good idea, another New Year resolution maybe.
    I feel just the same about my Dad, he was lot older than Mum so lost him long time ago, way before i was interested in Family history, its such a shame all that wasted knowledge.


  3. What a beautiful picture, and great story. Yes, our relatives have a lot of info that we forget to ask about. I have visited the Bridge over the River Kwai, and had a ride on the steam train on the Death Railway as they call it there. There is a museum full of photos of the prisoners of war, which you may be able to access on the internet. Very sad, and very haunting museum, along with ‘cemetery’ memorial stones….


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