The memoirs of Edward Groves

(1875 - 1961)

- A chronology of events -

 


 

The memoirs - a chronology of events in the life of Ed Groves, with references to mentioned family members

 
The memoirs provide anecdotes and references to Edward's brothers and sisters, those mentioned being Tom, Jack, William (Bill), Andrew, Margaret (Mag) and Mary and next-generation offspring, including my father, Edward Archibald Groves, all of this proving a valuable source of information.  I thought that I would list the facts as I know them to be at the present.
 

The Life of Edward Groves - the highlights:

After enlisting in the Queen's Army in May, 1893, his mother attempts to reclaim him. He deserts from the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and travels to Aldershot to join the Royal Scots Fusiliers
 
  • I joined the Third Militia Battalion Royal Fusiliers in May, 1893, and did the annual training at Hounslow. The following year, at St. George's Barracks, London, I enlisted in the Second Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
  • I lay a long time wondering what my mother, sisters and brothers were thinking about my absence from home, as I had never once been away without their knowledge.  As we emerged through the barrack gate, I saw Mother  and brother Bill waiting there with many others. My heart sank to my boots when I saw her step forward and in her best fighting voice say "Come on, my boy, no damned soldiering for you". Without halting us, the recruiting sergeant raised his hand and said "You're too late mother, he now belongs to the Queen". This brought tears my dear old mother's  eyes, but she very bravely followed us to the railway station, and saw us off, putting a half sovereign into my hand and kissing me for the first time I could remember.
  • .......a letter I received from my pal Bill Scott, who was in the Royal Scots Fusiliers, telling me that his regiment was gazetted for service in India the next year, decided Jackman and I that we would go to Aldershot where the Scots Fusiliers were now stationed and join that regiment.
  • (Later) I bedded down for my first night in my new regiment, the First Royal Scots Fusiliers. The next morning, myself and two other were marched to the Cambridge Hospital for examination, and after passing the inspection, were taken to the orderly room, and sworn in and posted to H company, on March 11th, 1895.
Edward Groves serves in India. During the voyage he is promoted to Lance Corporal.  Much of his time is spent in the North-West Frontier region of what is now in Pakistan.
  • We sailed from Southampton in September, 1896, and my dear old mum and sister Mag were both at the dockside and I was allowed to spend a few minutes talking to them before embarking.  The ship was named "Dilwara". I was promoted to Lance Corporal during the unforgettable voyage lasting 22 days and on arrival in Bombay harbour was put in charge of squad of three men.
  • Our brigade, consisting of the Gordon Highlanders, Dorset Regiment, Royal Irish Regiment and 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers, was ordered to march through the Afridi country, called Tirah.
  • We left Lundi Kotal and commenced the march through the Khyber Pass, with advance guard, flank guards and a rear guard. As the pass was still in the hands of the Afridis, they kept us on our toes until we reached the half way camp, the fort at Ali Masjid, where we halted for the night.

In December 1898, an incident arises where he is bitten by a small spaniel that had "gone mad" and is recommended for vaccination against rabies, at the Pasteur Institute in Paris.  After treatment, he visits the family in England and returns to the address in Neal Street, St. Giles in the Fields.

 
  • We reached Newhaven at 4 p.m. and embarked on the London express which was standing on a platform beside the docks. My instructions were that I should report to Thos. Cook & Son on reaching London, for further orders, but as it was too late to call at their offices, I decided to go home and see my people first. So I left Charing Cross Station, crossed the Strans, along St. Martin's Lane, and down Neal Street - HOME! What a feeling! Sister Mag was out sweeping the pavements when she spotted me walking down the street. She dropped her broom and rushed into the house calling "Mother, here's Ed!"
Edward Groves requests a transfer to the regimental depot in Ayr, Scotland. Upon arrival, he is immediately granted leave, which he spends in London.  Note: The 1901 census record indicates Margaret Groves as being "married", though the memoirs refer to her as "widowed" around that time.
 
  • I did not show my eagerness and told him (Major Frere) that I had a widowed mother who would be glad to see me. He then gave me six weeks furlough on condition that I took over the mess (at Ayr) on completion.
  • Having three brothers working in theatres, I was able to get complimentary tickets to a good many shows, and at quite a few I went back stage, being introduced to various actors and actresses and generally having a very good time, until brother Bill had an argument with a policeman one night when we were all leaving a pub at closing time. The policeman gave Bill a hard shove and Bill resented this and gave the policeman a fourpenny one.
After serving at the Ayr depot for three months, he makes acquaintance with a one Janet Lawson Wyllie  [Birth certificate traced].  He is promoted to full corporal.
 
  • After a couple of months I decided, with Jessie's permission, to ask her father's sanction to marry, but he thought that we had not known each other long enough, so suggested that we wait for another three months. But this did not suit me, and after telling him that I loved his daughter and that she loved me, and that we intended to marry as soon as possible with or without his consent, I spoke to Mrs. Wyllie, who had a word or two with the old gentleman, resulting in our arranging to marry in a month. I applied for permission to marry at the orderly room, and this was granted, but as no married quarters were available, I would have to live out. The regimental conditions were that a soldier must have at least five years service and five pounds in a savings bank. So, on a pay of one and three pence a day and in September, we were married at the Free Gardiners' Hall in Ayr.
  • I had written to my mother as soon as we decided on our marriage, and she, with sister Mag and brother Andrew, came up from London to look over the bride to be and attend the wedding. She was perfectly satisfied with her future daughter-in-law, although she told me when I met her on the train that I ought to have sought a wife from my own town. She eventually became very fond of my choice.
  • I was promoted full corporal and on the same day that my promotion was in Depot Orders, I was called to the Ante Room where I found all the officers present and was handed a beautiful French regulator clock with all the officers names engraved on it.
After the wedding and on a regimental pass, they visit London.
 
  • That night with my wife, mother, brother and sister, we boarded the London train, whilst a good crowd of Scots relations and friends gathered to see us off. Arrived at Euston Station the next morning at 6, we hired a four-wheeler (cab) and drove home to find them all expecting us and with breakfast waiting. My wife won the hearts of all who met her, and with her Scots accent and dainty figure she completely captivated my elder brothers and their wives.
  • My brother Tom had brought us two complimentary tickets for seats in the old Gaiety Theatre to see "The Shop Girl". Before taking our seats Tom arranged to meet me at the pub, which we did, but we took longer over it than we should have. When I returned, I found the curtain up and the second act in progress and I could not very well get to my seat which was right in the centre, without disturbing others. I stood at the back waiting for a chance that never came. As the final curtain fell, I rushed for the door and was out with the first rush, meeting brother Tom waiting for us to come out. Whilst chatting, my wife passed us in the crowd without being seen by Tom or me, and stood on the kerb nearby waiting for me. Not having yet seen her, Tom and I made our way quickly inside, but only the cleaners were left, covering the seats with the dust sheets. We were beginning to feel desperate by then, and commenced to run around the block, and just as I turned the corner into Southampton Street, from the Strand, I saw my wife standing on the edge of the pavement sobbing bitterly with a big fat policeman standing near her. I went quickly to her side and pacified her as well as I was able, explaining to the policeman what had happened. He was most apologetic and told me that he had watched the girl standing at the theatre exit scanning the crowds as they came out and when asked what she was waiting for, replied that she was waiting for her husband. When asked where she lived, she could not tell him, as she had not the foggiest idea, could not even tell him in what direction it lay, and so he concluded that she was up to no good and moved her on. Tom joined the party and began to shoot his neck out at the policeman, so we called a cab and drove home. My wife was so distressed over this incident, that she would not let me leave her for a moment whenever we were out together after that, and the remainder of our leave passed without further trouble.
Edward and Janet Lawson Groves live in Ayr for at least a couple of years, sons Tom and George Hugh being born there in 1902 and 1903 respectively  [Birth certificates traced].  He is promoted to Lance-Sergeant.
 
  • As I possessed all the necessary certificates for promotion, earned in the Battalion, I was appointed Lance-Sergeant a month before my first son, Tom, was born.

  • My son Tom began to crawl about the mess and became a worry to his mother and me, for we could scarcely keep him penned in the small bed room we used, and most of his time was spent in the kitchen, where he was taught all sorts of tricks by the mess servants. His favourite spot was in a huge iron coal box kept below the stairs and most times when he was missing he could be found half buried in coal and covered completely with coal dust. It was in this state that I found him one day, sitting in the middle of the Ante Room, when the bell rang and I went to answer it. What a sight met my eyes! Tom sitting there, enjoying his surroundings and four or five officers roaring with laughter, one officer remarking to me as I entered "Good God, Sergeant Groves, what is that!" I picked Tom up and put him under my arm and said "This is my big son Sir," and took him down stairs, handing him over to his mum who gave him a spanking and a good wash, but we never completely cured him of his love of coal.

Shortly after the birth of their second son, Edward Groves decides to return to the Regiment in India. It is not clear precisely when but during this period he is promoted once more, as he is referred to as "Sergeant Groves".
 
  • It soon became clear that Tom was going to have a playmate, and I began to realise that the work in the kitchen was keeping my wife tied down too much, but she dreaded me telling the officers, that she wanted to leave, as she had become very much liked. In fact, the combination of a good cook and a caterer that knew his job was something not easily obtained in depot messes. After talking it over many times between ourselves and her parents, I decided to volunteer to go back to India, as soon after her confinement as possible.

  • My second son came along in a hurry, 10 days before we expected him, and a lusty brute he was, with a shock of dark hair and a pair of lungs that shook the wall pictures. We were glad to get him out of the mess, into his grandparent's place, where we stayed a couple of weeks before leaving.

Prior to leaving Ayr for India in 1902, Ed's brothers pay them a visit from London.
 
  • Before leaving Ayr, four of my brothers wrote saying that they would like to spend a few days with me before I left, and I sent a telegram and received a reply saying that they would leave the following morning, reaching Ayr station at 9 p.m. I engaged rooms with friends I had near the barracks, and arranged for them to feed in the sergeant's mess. I met them at the station, brothers Tom, Jack, Bill and Andrew, AND Uncle George Wells. After supper a sing-song was held at which brother Jack excelled and we all in turn had to do something.
Several years are spent in India and Burma with the Regiment, until 1909.
 
  • Margaret Joan Groves was christened at St. Paul's convent by a Roman Catholic priest, a married corporal and his wife standing as god-parents and very soon after, the companies were ordered to return to Allahabad. With many regrets we bade farewell to this delightful life and after the various changes, reached our station to find that we were under orders for a change from Allahabad to Bareilly, circa 1906.
  • On March 12th (1906), my wife went across to the hospital and gave birth to another fine little girl baby. She was christened at the Presbyterian church in town by the Rev. Mr. Drysdale, and named Jessie Lawson, the latter half being taken from an aunt of her mother's.
  • At Christmas time, 1909, our daughter Mag was taken to hospital on the 23rd with a mild attack of malaria, and this caused a general feeling of depression, as we had made great preparations to give them such a party they would always remember. On the morning of Christmas, I went to see the matron in the hospital, who told me that Mag was much better and that we could steal her out of the ward, while she was at a party in her own quarters, but we must promise to have her well wrapped in blankets and be sure to bring her back by 10 o'clock. That is what we did, and did they enjoy themselves. The next morning the doctor said she could leave, and we carried her home across the road with trumpets and drums making a din. A few days after Christmas I had news that my name was included in a batch of long service sergeants for home leave, and did I want to take it.
Edward and Janet Lawson Groves return to London.  By this time, his mother Margaret Groves has relocated to a new address.
 
  • We reached Waterloo station and the military police swooped on us for not wearing our waistbelts. These being public property, had to be left behind with our other equipment - rifles, packs, etc., and I told them they could go to Rangoon to find mine. He took my name and number, but I heard no more about it. We got a four-wheeler cab and I packed my wife and Jessie in with the luggage, told the cabby where to go and with the two boys and Mag, walked the short distance to Cornwall Road where my mother lived. The five minutes walk took us nearly 20 minutes and my people were beginning to wonder what had happened, and when we turned into our street, there was a combined shout of "Here they come", and a rush of sisters and brothers to escort us home. My dear old mother  was in tears, and would not let the children out of her sight. More brothers and sisters-in-law arrived and the house, which was on the small side, was jammed.
They also visit the Wyllie family in Glasgow. It is during this period, circa 1911, that Ed's mother Margaret relocates to Goudhurst, Kent.
 
  • I received a letter from my mother saying that she had an opportunity of buying a pub and could I possibly come down to advise her about it. I left the family staying with her people and caught the night train down. I found them all very excited and heard all about it in a very short time. The pub was called the Vine Hotel, in Goudhurst, Kent, and we all knew it very well, as a busy little place, especially during the hop picking season. Having decided on a life in the country, my sister Mag, brother Andrew and I, went down the next day and after a talk we arranged to take over the place for 400 pds, after a valuation had been made. We went to the police court and made sure there would be no obstacle about the transfer, saw the brewers who were perfectly satisfied with us, and put up for the night at the Three Bells. We sat yarning in the bar until closing time and fixed up with the boss for the beds as we intended catching an early train to London. We were up very early and before leaving, made up two dummies in our beds and left without wakening anyone. We heard plenty about those dummies later. We had a rough check of the stock in the small grocery shop that my mother had, and we got a satisfactory offer from a nearby grocer, who cleared us out the next day. We next engaged a furniture removal firm and they packed everything we had into a large pantechnicon and railed it to Goudhurst from where it was drawn to the village and unpacked into the Vine Hotel, which we had taken over the previous day. The two valuers had been round the stock and furnishings with brother Andrew and I, and we were both well satisfied with everything and became publicans. This all took place about six weeks before the hop picking commenced, and we had these few days in which to get acclimatised to the trade.

[Note: According to Goudhurst history material, T. James Thurgood was landlord in 1881 and 1891 and probably from about 1867 until his death in 1895. In 1901, the landlord was John Barrow and his wife Bessie. Although Barrow did not die until 1932 he appears to have given up the Vine by 1915. It is not certain when Barrow took over the Vine, various anecdotes in the Goudhurst Coronation (1937) and Jubilee  (1935) books say he was there 10 or 20 years, so it is possible he took over from Thurgood. Apart from a note which says Groves ran the Vine there is no definite information regarding them in the above mentioned books, the only thing which is indicated is that they  seem to have come after Barrow and before Popplewell (whoever he was ) and Dench - E A Dench was landlord by 1927 according to the Goudhurst entry in the Kent Kelly's Directory.  Street directories in Tunbridge Wells  reference library has a 1911 entry for an A. Groves at the Vine Hotel. This is the only time Groves is listed, but they must have taken over from Barrow as he is included in the 1908 directory, there isn't one for 1909, and 1910 has no entry for the Vine.  Someone called M. Ticehurst followed Groves, 1912 -1914. - Courtesy Gill Joye, Goudhurst Parish Historical Society.] The entry for A.Groves possibly refers to Andrew Groves.

Edward Groves returns to the Regiment in India whilst the family remain in Glasgow, as the Regiment is gazette for a move to South Africa. He reaches Durban, Natal, in the early morning of January, 1910(?).  During this period that he is away from the family, Joan Gebbie is born, in Glasgow, in 1911.
 
  • I began to hear rumours of the return of my wife and children, and spent some time cleaning up in the house and putting things in shape. I had almost forgotten to mention the increase that had occurred in our family. This happened three months after I had left Glasgow, when Joan Gebbie Groves was introduced to the world.
Edward Groves is based with the Regiment at Roberts Heights in Pretoria, South Africa.  Sheila is born there in 1912.
 
  • It was shortly after this (Torch Light Tattoo) that my wife had to go to hospital in the usual hurry, and the following day another daughter was born. Her name was bestowed on her by the Irish nurse attending my wife, who suggested "Why not call her Sheila", and so this bonnie wee thing became Sheila Groves.
Edward Groves is awarded his long service medal after 18 years service, probably around 1911.  He returns to the United Kingdom in 1914, a journey by sea lasting 18 days. Soon after his arrival at Gosport, he is promoted to colour sergeant. As the last entry in the memoirs concerning his mother, Margaret Groves, is at the time of the family's move from central London to the Vine Hotel in Goudhurst, it is assumed that she had passed on sometime during or after 1911/1912.
 
  • I now became entitled to my Long Service and Good Conduct medal, after having dodged all obstacles for eighteen years and this cost me a drink round the sergeants' mess. Later when it was confirmed from Whitehall, and published in Battalion Orders, another drink! And finally on the day of the presentation before a whole brigade of troops, the medal was pinned on by the G.O.C. and FINAL DRINKS!

  • The news had leaked out that the regiment would be leaving South Africa during the trooping season of 1914; this was confirmed by a notice in Battalion Orders, but so far, no idea of where we were going.

  • The voyage was a very rough one and we suffered a lot of seasickness which resulted in Tom, George and myself having to carry the girls up on deck from their cabin every day. It was particularly bad on the last few days and everyone kept below deck, and the hatches were all battened down. The ship rolled so much that cabin trunks would slide from one side to the other and the rattle of enameled plates and mugs could be heard all day and night, and we were a most thankful crowd to reach the end of a most exciting voyage.

  • On arrival at Gosport I had to attend to the loading of the mess kit on to the transport wagons, but first saw the families leave for the new barracks. After considering everything and talking things over with my wife, I made up my mind to leave the mess and take the Colours. If I allowed myself to remain as mess sergeant any longer, I found that I would not qualify for a full pension, as to obtain that, one had to hold the rank of colour sergeant for at least the last twelve months of service, and I was very near to this. And so it was that I was taken before my old friend colonel Douglas-Smith again. When he heard my application, he agreed at once that it was time that I was promoted and gave orders for a successor to be found as soon possible, as a vacancy for a colour sergeant would occur in a few days.

  • I was now promoted to colour sergeant.

Tom and George are sent to The Queen Victoria School in Dunblane, Scotland.
 
  • At this time, too, we had a reminder from the Queen Victoria school at Dunblane, that a number of vacancies had been kept open for boys of our regiment. This was entirely a military school, for training sons of soldiers to become N.C.O.’s and while in South Africa, notification was published in Battalion orders that a number of vacancies were available and calling for nominations. These were soon taken up, and the names were sent from South Africa to the school, Tom and George being among those chosen. Now it was time for the boys to join the school, and I was selected to conduct the party. I did not enjoy it one little bit, as I was taking a number of boys, with whom I had been closely associated since their babyhood, and had played games with them, taken them on trek and spent a good deal of my spare time amusing them, and I did not like very much the idea of suddenly being parted from them.
Edward Groves serves in Belgium, during the First World War.
 
  • War was declared between Great Britain and Germany on August 4th, 1914, and every day after that, training became harder and each day found me at the Q.M. Stores taking delivery of war stores and equipment.
  • We found the men a bit difficult at first, many of them going to hospital with minor complaints after spending too many hours in the regimental canteen, but on the 13th August, when we marched to war, the whole battalion, nearly a thousand strong, passed a group of M.O.'s and not a single man was pronounced unfit.
  • I had already spent two hours with my wife and family trying without much success to ease the load from her heart. We all realised what we were up against, for this war had been brewing for some years, and we knew that we were going out to fight against the finest European army that had ever existed, and my wife told me later that when I left that day, she thought she had said good-bye to me forever!
Sometime after 6th September, 1914, Edward Groves is wounded in battle, around Mons, a coal-mining town.
 
  • The enemy attacked furiously and their gunners found our range, and were sending hundreds of high explosive shell over, and causing heavy casualties, and whilst lying in the open trying to stem their infantry attack, I felt a dull thud on the left leg, and looking back to see what it was, found my puttee ripped off my leg, and a ghastly wound there.
  • A letter from home at last! My family had been hurriedly evacuated from Gosport barracks, and had taken refuge at my sister Mag's house. This happened to all the married families as the quarters were required to accommodate the new Kitchener army, which was being organised by the thousands of men, who were volunteering for service. My wife told me in her letter how concerned they all were when they read in the casualty list that I was DANGEROUSLY WOUNDED, but my letter eased their minds considerably.

  • We were told off in parties to the various V.A.D. hospitals, our names, etc., taken, and rushed off in taxis, and it was all over in a few minutes. I was taken to a girls' college in Pimlico, which was in grounds enclosed by large iron railings, and as soon as I found out the proper address, I sent a wire to my wife, who came to see me the next day, and brought (the children) Mag, Jessie, Joan and Sheila.
After treatment lasting several days, he is discharged.  The memoirs refer to "Alf".  It is uncertain as to whether this is in fact another brother.
 
  • I met my brothers, Tom and Andrew; Alf was away with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and was killed before I could meet him. I made the most of my leave, and managed to get the two boys, Tom and George, down from the Dunblane School for a few days, which we spent doing the sights of London. I felt at this time that it would not be hard to get them away from the Queen Victoria School, as there would be many soldiers' widows who would welcome such a chance for their sons, and I could feel, in my talks with the boys, that they were not in love with the place. I told them I would try this, as soon as I was settled, and they went back more happily.
  • I attended the hospital every morning, at 10 a.m., was dressed and told how well the wound was healing, and on the eighth day, I was given my discharge.
Edward Groves is recommended for the appointment of Regimental Sgt. Major to a large Convalescent camp in Alnwick, Northumberland, where the youngest of the eight children, is born in Lesbury, 4 miles away [Birth certificate traced].
 
  • John Forbes, the acting C.O., with whom I had been closely associated for over 20 years, always had a high opinion of my work. I stood at the orderly verandah waiting my turn when the Sgt. Major roared out "Col. Sgt. Groves, shun! Right turn, quick march", and I stood at attention facing Major Forbes who, with a smile on his face said "Col. Sgt. Groves, I have been asked by Northern Command to recommend a reliable and trustworthy N.C.O. for the appointment of Regimental Sgt. Major to a large Convalescent camp in Northumberland, and with the utmost confidence, I have selected you; how do you consider it?" Without hesitation, I thanked him for this confidence in me, and promised to do my best to deserve it.
  • I went back to camp, and found a message from the Sgt. Major, addressed "Sgt. Major E. Groves - Proceed Alnwick Convalescent camp early as possible - Rail warrant attached".
  • I had almost forgotten to mention that before leaving (Lesbury), our youngest son elected to be born there! He does not remember anything about this beautiful old-world village, but I can assure him that if ever he has the good fortune to visit it, I am certain he will fall in love with it. He was christened inside the cottage from a large cut glass bowl by the local Padre and named Edward Archibald Groves. And what a load he was!
An armistice is signed on 11th November, 1918. Soon after Edward Groves is amongst those dramatically pensioned off!  Tom and George leave home to join the service.
 
  • During this period an army order was published stating that all men in receipt of a pension should be discharged immediately, and their places filled by serving men of equal rank, and as I had become pensionable during the war, this order affected me very much. I was now faced with the task of competing with thousands of younger men who would soon be flooding the streets, looking for work which would all be so strange to me after 25 years of my life spent in the army. We had absolutely nothing in the way of furniture, and except for the little bit my wife had wisely put into the Post Office savings bank, we were due for a bad crash.
  • A short time before this happened, Tom and George had decided to leave home to join the service. Tom chose the R.A.F. and George the Royal Navy, and both had passed their entrance examinations some time previously.
Edward Groves decides that there is no future in England and resorts to moving to South Africa.  Sons Tom and George support the move.
 
  • I left the camp for the last time, and became, for the first time in my life, one of the millions of unemployed! I had my pension and wound gratuity, which proved most useful, and had a whole week's holiday with the family before looking for another job.
  • I received a letter from Col. E.I.D. Gordon, who was farming in South Africa. I had been associated with this officer for many years in my old regiment, and we had known each other very well. He wrote from Elgin in the Cape Province, pointing out that there were prospects in this growing community for a man of my ability to run a general dealer's business together with a licensed inn. He said he had an option on such a place and considered I should do very well there.
  • Meanwhile the thoughts of the probability of our being back in the sunshine again and away from the ever present cold, fog and slush of England, buoyed us up and made work seem lighter. We talked it over with Tom and George, who, I thought, would grieve at our leaving, but I was gratified to learn that they were both in favour of us taking up the offer, and there and then we made the decision, and I got in touch with the overseas Settlement Association.
  • My brothers, Tom and Andrew, did everything to try and persuade me to alter my mind, about leaving, but by now I was thoroughly set on carrying out what I had undertaken, that nothing they said made the slightest impression.
Janet Lawson Groves tragically passes away in South Africa in 1930 at the tender age of 49.
 
  • And now I come to the greatest tragedy that happened during the whole of my life - this was the very sudden passing of my dearly beloved wife. . I carried Mum out to the car and held her on my lap until we reached the old Somerset Hospital, where she was put to bed, and I was allowed to sit beside her during the whole of that day, and right through the night, and all that I could do during this time was to feed her with sips of orange juice. It was an eerie vigil, but I was most thankful for being allowed to be there until the last, which happened at daybreak. I then returned to home at Everest and shut myself in my room for a couple of days, and I was so utterly and completely broken up, and nothing or nobody could give me the comfort I had lost.
In the 1950's Edward Groves undertakes a visit to England and Scotland.  He visits and stays with sons George and Tom, both of whom have subsequently married. He attempts to retrace the remnants of his family.  Brother Andrew and sister Mary had since passed on.
 
  • I made my way by the underground railway towards Walworth Road, to the last address I knew where my sister Mag lived, but found that they had left, and nothing could be found of where they now lived. I called at the Council Chambers, where a search was made through their books, but without success, and I then commenced to walk the streets adjacent to their last address, questioning people who were out shopping and moving from street to street until I "struck oil". I found an old dame toddling home with her arms full of vegetables, and whilst I was putting the everlasting questions to her, a woman in a house opposite popped her head out of a first floor window and called out "Who are you looking for guvnor?" and when I mentioned the name Mr. Groves, she pointed her finger over to the house at which we were standing, and said "in there". And so ended the search, I knocked on the door which was immediately opened, and the girl, who as a tiny tot I had seen doing fairy dances to amuse my own daughters, stood before me. After a moment's hesitation, she turned towards a stairway and called excitedly "Mum, here's uncle Ted", and down the stairs came my sister-in-law, Louie.

  • I was taken in to their small front parlour, where, during a cup of tea, I was given all the news. My youngest brother, Andrew, had only recently died, after a severe illness, my eldest brother, Tom, was in an institution owned by the Theatrical Guild, and was said to be very happy and comfortable. My sister, Mag, was living at Hendon, North London, and my only other sister, Mary, had died at her house in Kent, where she is laid to rest. I visited her grave later, and met her daughter, Phyllis, and the two sons.

  • Finding that sister Mag was on the phone, we went to the nearest booth and called her, and when she answered, young Maggie said "Auntie Margaret, Uncle Ted's here" and handed me the receiver. As soon she heard my voice, I could hear nothing but choking sobs and when she calmed down, I arranged to meet her at the bus stop near her house the following day, it then being too late to do the trip that day. So I was given a shake down in Louie's house and that night when Maggie's husband Jack, arrived home from Lime Grove Studios, where he worked, we all adjourned to the local, where I was shown off to their many pals, and had a real good night.

 He visits his sister Mag in Hendon, North London and brother Tom in an institution.
 
  • The next day I was about early and phoned to Mag to let her know what time I was leaving, and after breakfast I said good-bye to the family, jumped on a bus on the Walworth Road to the Elephant and Castle, where I booked on the underground to Hendon Central. Arriving there, I next took a bus, as I was told to do, to Aerodrome Road, and there I found sister Mag, looking very little different from when I had  last seen her. She made to grab my suitcase but I would have none of it, and as the house was mere hop, step and jump away, we walked towards it, talking excitedly until we reached home. I was intrigued with the type of house, and the valuable furnishings that were everywhere, until I heard that it had originally been built and owned by a Miss Margaret Yarde, a well-know actress of the day, and on her death it was left to Mag to live in for the rest of her life. Mag had been dresser to Miss Yarde for many years, and always accompanied her to the theatre at nights, all through the blitzes and bombings that were taking place, and besides the house she was drawing a small monthly amount from Miss Yarde's estate. How we talked that day, going over the bad old times we had suffered together, and roaring with laughter over some of the incidents. That evening I met the three granddaughters, Joan, Marjorie and Sheila, when they arrived home from work, and also Arthur, the husband of Susie. The last named has been missing for five years and nothing was ever heard of her again, and it assumed that she met her death in one of the many raids which had been prevalent in that quarter.

  • The following day, we all went to see my brother Tom. This was a three-bus ride, and a good long walk at the end. Arrived at the institution just after lunch time, and we were shown into a fairly large common room, where several men were taking an "easy". Some quietly dozing, others smoking, and Mag approached one elderly white-haired man and said "Hullo, Tom, I've brought a visitor from Africa to see you". Tom very seriously put forth his hand saying "How do you do, Sir". It took us some time to convince him who I was and after spending an hour with him, we approached the matron, and told her who I was, asking if it were not possible to have him home for a few days. She made certain conditions which we promised to abide by, and the next day, Mag and I chartered a taxi and we had Tom with us for a week. Whilst he was home with us, we took him over to see Louie, and we put in another night at the local, with Louie in good form. The next day I took Tom and Mag along to his old house at Hampstead. This house had been severely damaged by bombs, the whole front being blown in. Fortunately it was empty at the time, and when we arrived the repairs were completed. We met Tom's daughter Maggie and her husband, and after a few hours with them, we arranged to meet Tom's wife Alice, and the two sons and daughters at Alice's home in Clapton Common. We had little difficulty in finding the house, and when we entered we found Alice looking very fragile, but still full of beans, the two daughters with their several children and one son, Young Tom. We had a most convivial night, and left for Hendon and home after midnight. The next day we had to return Tom to the institution and I remember how the long walk across country to Whitchurch Mansion tired poor Tom and he was put to bed at once.

Edward Groves's brother Tom passes away at the institution.
 
  • I wired, telling daughter-in-law Violet (George's wife) that I would arrive by bus the next day, but we received a phone call from the Matron telling of my brother, Tom's death. He had been out walking in the snow, when he must have slipped and stunned himself. He was found dead by a local farmer, who had been a great friend of Tom's. He was buried in front of the institution, the family meeting in a funeral parlour, near to the cemetery. Shall I ever forget that day? The snow lay six inches thick on the ground, and it was pelting down the whole time. It was a Catholic Priest who conducted the service.

Edward Groves returns to South Africa, where he sees out his days until he passes away on 16th July, 1961.

 


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