Sunday, December 04, 2005

My father

DaddyAndrea (who has just moved her blog) yesterday did a posting about her grandfather. She was prompted to do so by a dream. I've had lots of prompts to do this one... Not least to balance the posting I did last Sunday about my mother. My sister sent me lots of jpegs in June and as I wasn't blogging then I had no where to put them!

When I read Andrea's posting I immediately connected not with my grandfather but my father.

My father was born in 1912, Griffith Henry Richards, in Wales (near Aberdare), when he was about 18 months they moved to Oxford in England.

This photograph was sent to the front when his father, Cyril, was in the First World War. My father is the boy on the right. His mother was named Ray after an uncle, she graced the name and made it both feminine and powerful; I never saw her looking like this and was amazed by seeing her so young; by the time I was aware of her she was a formidable matriarch. My uncle Trefor is on the left.

My father and one brother

The only record we have of his father's war service is this which came from the National Archives:

war service

I've no idea what it means (do please click on it to enlarge and try and decipher it if you know about these things!).

He survived the war, and the family expanded. Here in 1933 are my father (21), his three brothers and one sister:


I never met the younger two of my uncles as they died in World War 2.

Here is my father, 32, in India:


He spent a lot of time in Africa too and was always beginning anecdotes with "When I was in Rhodesia... ". He had been in the RAF before and during the war. He taught aircraft maintenance.

By the time he met my mother he was teaching in Oxford and mending cars. They married in 1957. And I came along in 1958. He was already 46. This photo is of him with me when I was a baby:

Me and my Father

As it had been my mother's car breaking down and his mending it that had brought them together I was called Caroline.

His parents carried on living in Oxford, here they are when I was small:

Grandfather and Grandmother

My Grandfather, father's father, died when I was about 11, but I'd never really known him despite staying there for many holidays. He'd been a headmaster and he scared me! Gran outlived her husband and all her boys.

My parents ran a garage together in Gloucestershire until his death in 1976. He was 64, I was 17. He died of lung cancer, and yes he smoked.

The photograph of him at the top was one I took when I was about 10. Its how I think of him still.


andrea said...

What a great way to remember him, Caroline. This reads like the opening pages of a good autobiography.

Rebekah said...

I feel like I have had a great introduction to someone, and the pictures are a wonderful chronicle of his life. Were you close to him? You were so very young when he died, which makes me sad for you.

Caroline said...

Hi Andrea, thanks. I feel I'll have to do another entry on my mother now as she didn't get any photos!

Hello Rebekah, I got closest to my father in the last 6 months of his life. When he was unable to work. Until then he'd always been around but rarely available. But that is probably another posting...

Janey said...

What a great series of photos and a great way to remember your family. And wouldn't they make nice drawings?

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy this post Caroline!I know about these things ... and deciphered National Archive paper. It is the record of your Grandfather's service showing ranking to a Captain for Regiment 3539. Under that it describes what awards he received and date of when he first signed up. Your next step for research would be to do a search for information on his regiment - start with google:)

Wandering Coyote said...

To me it looked like he was a private, but what do I know? I could ask my dad when I see him later on this month. He was in the British Army for a while.

Very nice post, Caroline.

Cream said...

Caro, I love this post. We are always looking at our roots and wondering how and why we are here. It is great that you can go back a long way. It is not going to change you in the slightest but it will explain a couple of things.

Anonymous said...

Caroline, I absolutely loved this post. I've been so completely into genealogy research lately, I haven't been blogging much, so when I saw your posts and Andrea's, I was shocked. We are all on the same wavelength, somehow. Amazing. Keep sharing. I really enjoyed reading about your dad.

Anonymous said...

He was both a Private and a Captain ... just thought Captain was higher because it was written second.

Caroline said...

Janey - good idea! (I go away mutter "shame I've already shown them as that way you know what they ought to look like...")

Anonymous - I'm glad you enjoyed it - I haven't been able to find a Regiment 3539 using google.... thanks for decipering it as much as you have.

Wandering Coyote - thank you - if you father could help that would be fantastic!

Cream - you surprise me, do you never change through better understanding?

Nan - that's great - one of the things that nudged me down this road was trying to start the 100 facts (and I've lost your invite by the way... sorry)

Anonymous said...

The 100 facts is quite an interesting exercise, so I know what you mean. I'll send you another invite just in case you want to post your 100 (or increments thereof :-). I so enjoy your blog. Thanks again for being so creative and sharing it with all of us!

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

Nothing like family history to give us a sense of roots.

I'm still laughing at the CARoline.

I have a friend called Carlene. She can't park her car straight. I told her that's why she was name CarLENE.

Leah said...

i wonder if your dad every met my grandpa who was also in india and africa during that time. maybe they crossed paths.

that was such a lovely tribute. thank you for sharing your story and the wonderful pics!

TP said...

I absolutley love old pictures, these are wonderfully charming.

I think if I had the time and space I would collect all the unwanted and lost old photographs and make a giant scrap book, where I would make up lives for the people in the pictures.

Thanks for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

It's possible his military number was 3539 ....

Anonymous said...

Note I am mentioning numbers here ... very confusing ...

Anonymous said...

Hi here is your brother J, I think you'll find that our paternal grandfather rejoined the army for WW2 and left after that war as a major, I also believe that he was born 1891

Reluctant Nomad said...

I really enjoyed reading that. Funny how all those Rhodesians kept referring to 'When we/I...'. I suppose there must be others who do the same after having lived somewhere they were particularly fond of.

Old pics are wonderful and TJ, one of your commenters may be interested in a website started by a guy who collected old pics from fairs and charity shops then posted them on the web with a bit of an invented story about them. Great idea, I think. If I find the link, I'll let you know.

Incidentally, we must be more-or-less the same age - my birthday: 7 June 1959

Caroline said...

thanks! I've noitced that this posting has had quite a lot of viewings from people who haven't
commented so I guess there are plenty of people interested in such old pictures!

Mine is 13 Oct 1958 so yes we are much the same age...

radcjz mean anything to you?