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This is in part in response to Nordmann's comment about anyone wanting to write a blogg but a 'blogg' from someone who died in 2005.

My father was born in 1915 as one of 10 children, left school at 14 and started as a hall boy at Suddeley Castle in 1930. After several jobs as a domestic servant, had become first footman for Lady Astor at Clivedon at the start of 1939. After serving in the war and being wounded in North Africa, he received a TUC scholarship to Ruskin College Oxford and subsequently became a Youth...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 16 - Views: 2328

On 4th December 1915 I was born at The Cottage, Windsor Road, Bray, Berkshire (near Maidenhead); despite being christened John, my family always called me Jack. My father was then a poultry man (domestic). On 10th January 1918 our poor mother had twins – Leslie and Gilmore at another home, Holyport Village, halfway between Maidenhead and Windsor. My Auntie Beat, she was married to Robert Whittle (Uncle Bert) used to tell the story of our father sending a telegram to her “Rose is having twins – come immediately”. Auntie Beat found mother overwrought and she spent two weeks just facing the wall....
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 6 - Views: 1498

On 11th April 1920, mother gave birth to Veronica Emma, their first daughter. Veronica used to sit in the small highchair and if she ever choked, father or mother used to tip her upside down and take the chair out and pacify her. Father seemed to be proud of her. In January 1921 I went to the local school at Wotton St Lawrence, which consisted only of two rooms and two lady teachers and found it like a prison with lessons from nine till twelve and then from one till quarter to four. I complained that lessons were boring and Roland, the second child, threatened to give me to the gypsies. The...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 1136

Eversley is a long scattered village about eleven miles from Reading and about five miles from Camberley. In the 1920s in both it and the adjacent village of Yateley most of the roads were gravel and there was a lot of gorse but few trees. Our mother went to Reading for shopping but I never went there until I was 16-17 years of age. A few times I visited Camberley to see the ‘pictures’ for 4d – the films were silent films. Our home was a humble cottage of two up and two down that was built about 150-200 years earlier. We had no electricity or gas and we had water from the well in the front...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 4 - Views: 1253

In 1923 our father went to the Chelsea Flower Show in London with Mrs Ferdinando in his car and it was the talk of Eversley. Very few people went very far in those days. In 1923 our father showed a lot of his flowers and vegetables in the local Eversley show when he won a lot of the prizes – first prize was £1, second was 7s 6d and third was 3s 6d. Father received about £5 – that seemed like a fortune.

In 1922 Mr Ferdinando started a Scout troop for Eversley and Wilfred and Roland joined it . The Scout boys were pleased to help in ‘beating’ for the rich people who go out after 12th...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 1171

Chapter 2 Hall Boy at Sudeley Castle

In summer 1930, my father heard of a job as a domestic servant at Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire. He had seen Mr and Mrs Dent-Brocklehurst going into Priory House, Donnington, near Newbury; the home of Mr and Mrs Gathome-Hardy for lunch. Father was head gardener there and he took the opportunity to have a long chat with the chauffeur. As a result of this a letter for an interview was sent soon after to our household. Father loaned me his cycle and I was interviewed by Major John Dent-Brocklehurst at the home of Mr H Dent-Brocklehurst,...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 2 - Views: 2260

Mr Pearce passed me over to the footman, Edward Nicholson from County Durham. He spoke with a Geordie accent and ended most sentences with the word ‘champion’. He explained to me that he ought to have gone into the local mine but since it was only on part time work, somebody had suggested going into domestic service. I gather he originally went to Woolton Hall, as the hall boy, under Mr Henry-Dent-Brocklehurst, the Major’s father. The Major gave him the job as footman at Sudeley Castle to start before Christmas 1930. I believe that it was Mr Henry Dent-Brocklehurst who first put in electricity...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 1520

Most of the maids, who worked for Janet, came to Sudeley from South Wales. They always had a winsome Welsh lilt. Most of their fathers were unemployed Welsh miners, often on the Means Test. They were often only half fed and poorly clothed when they came, in politics they were Labour minded. The girls used to come and go, typically after six months. I believe they most often left to go to London to get a better job with more money. Mr Pearce would quite regularly take the girl to Cheltenham station and collect the new one from Wales. The girls used to ask me to get them a postal order for...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 1431

Generally speaking, the inside servants worked in the morning and the evening and often had the afternoon off and so after 2 p.m. I would go on my cycle with or without Edward to a village church and get back by about 4.30 p.m. or I would go for a swim or a walk. I visited many churches around the area. Once a week I had the afternoon and evening off; from about 2-11 p.m. I also had a half day off on every other Sunday and on the Sunday when we were on duty; we were allowed to go to church at Winchcombe in the morning. When I had my half day off; I went to see relations around the area. On...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 1047

We lived in one part of the castle while the gentry lived in another part called by the Mr Buckingham “the other side”. The castle had central heating and hot and cold water at all times. We had a bathroom for men servants and one for female servants. Our food was normally good and sometimes very good, it was varied and there was enough of it. It should not be forgotten that servants got warm rooms; hot and cold water; our own beds and often our own bedroom; four meals a day; time off and two weeks paid holiday a year; and generally speaking nice people to associate with.

The gentry...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 1017

This chapter covers my father's life as a servant between 1933 and 1938 working in various households including a period in the Irish Free State and working as a 'temp'

Chapter 3 Footman to the Rich

In May 1933 I started work at Castlehill, Engfield Green, Surrey about five miles from Windsor as a hallboy/footman at £28 p.a. with a uniform for waiting on the gentry plus one good suit for myself. I was working for the Hon. Henry and Mrs Tufton who were later to became Lord and Lady Hothfield. I had to share a bedroom with the footman and, since there was only one...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 1172

On May 1st 1936 I left this job and returned home. I found that my youngest brother Gerald had been in trouble with the police and mother was sick with worry about it. Father had left his good job and they all moved to Kinsclere, Hants – eight miles from Newbury and about 8 miles from Basingstoke. He tried to start his own nursery business without enough capital.

Before they had moved from Donnington, Laurence had passed the exam to go to the Newbury Grammar School, but father said that he could not afford the uniform at £15 so Laurence went back to the local school at Shaw. Mr....
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 3 - Views: 1371

When I got home I found father unwell and mother concerned about there not being enough food and too much debt. I then went to London, stopping at the Y.M.C.A. at 5s for a night or 4s 6d for sharing a bedroom with another person. I quickly got another job with a Mrs Hamilton at 42 Green Street, SW6 near Marble Arch as a temporary footman at 30s per week. Mrs Hamilton was very rich from money from Courtaulds Textiles. The butler told me that Mrs Hamilton had got rid of her husband by paying him £500pa on the understanding that “he may not bother her”. She then got a ‘friend’, a Miss White to...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 1094

In 1938 I went to work for Sir Harold and Lady Nutting of Quenby Hall, Hungarton near Leicester. Sir Harold had a proper oil painting of himself when he had been a Captain in a posh horse regiment in the First World War and an oil painting of Lady Nutting. They were both a good class of rich people who were born with a ‘silver spoon in the mouth’. I only wish I had got their chance in life, a nanny to wait on me, to get plenty of good food and good clothes and to go to a good college and on to university etc. I am sure that I would be a nice employer, especially if I was very rich – but of...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 2 - Views: 2030

In the late 1990s we took my father to visit Clivedon, home of the Astors on the Thames. It is now owned by the National Trust but while the gardens are open to the public the house is a rather exclusive hotel. We managed to pursued the hotel to let my father look around it, he had not been there before the war. Also we spoke to the National Trust people and later posted the NT a copy of what my father had written on Clivedon. Later they sent a film team to interview him and he was included, with 3 other former servants, on a film they made on Clivedon. It is possible to see this film when...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 1553

Our uniforms were a honey brown colour, I think, and the cars were the same colour. I had two types of uniforms, one consisted of breeches, stockings and a jacket like an Admirals with a lot of gold braid around my shoulders which was quite smart and was used at Cliveden. The other was a normal Footman’s uniforms consisting of brown trousers, a stripped waistcoat, brown jacket and black shoes for use elsewhere. My pay was £60 per annum and Lord Astor paid for our share of the Health stamp at 9d per week. It should be remembered that domestic servants could not draw unemployment pay at this...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 2551

Generally speaking, each weekend we worked all day from 6:30am to around 12:00pm. It was interesting but very tiring. On Monday morning the guests got ready to go and after breakfast we would pack their luggage, take it to their cars and thank them for their tip of 10s or £1. Once the guests had left, the pantry staff got their luggage and travelled back to St James Square. There always had to be one servant covering the door while the others got their meal in the servant’s hall then the person who was ‘on the front door’ got his meal. I believe that the 2nd footman then had some time off on...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 1204

This part includes, what for me are, two of the most treasured memories of my father. An outburst by Nancy Astor against the US Ambassador, Joe Kennedy, and a wonderful comment by Ellen Wilkinson, the left wing Labour MP, at a dinner held by Nancy Astor.

When Arthur Bushall, Lord Astor’s valet was on holiday I had to valet Lord Astor for two weeks. Lord Astor used to change his clothes about four times a day. In his room was a wooden rack on which you laid out his clothes; trousers with braces, shirt with studs, vest, pants, tie, socks, handkerchief and black shoes. When he...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 1027

As soon as Parliament ended for the summer in July of 1939, Lord Astor, taking Arthur the valet and Mr Rogers the first chauffeur, went with Mr Harold Macmillan MP in the Rolls to the Isle of Jura for deer stalking and fishing. Lady Astor, who did not like the house in Scotland, went to Rest Harrow in Sandwich, Kent with Rose her maid where she would go for relaxation and to play some golfing. I also went with Mr Lee, the second chauffeur, the second footman and some of the kitchen staff.

Arthur, the second chauffeur, told me how on one occasion Lady Astor decided to drive the car...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 1841

Chapter 5 With the 2nd/6th Queens Royal Regiment

In 1939 there were a million coffins ready for the expected bombing casualties. The state paid for those persons who died by enemy action but if you were to depress people by being defeatist you could be fined or go to prison. On 26 October 1939 I volunteered for the army at Reading but after a medical lasting an hour they put me down as grade C and told me the army did not need me. As a result I had to get myself a job back in service until in March 1940 I was called up and had another medical and after ten minutes was passed A one....
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 1400

After about ten days, on the 18th June, our unit was moved to a new barracks at Tilehurst, about a mile away. Later on we were moved from there by train via Oxford and Coventry to Haltwhistle in Northumberland near the Roman Wall where we were billeted in the local workhouse. The building was similar to the Reading barracks, the floors were bare though clean, the beds were hard and there was little furniture. I wondered what had happened to the elderly men and women who had lived there until 1940. Altogether there were about three to four hundred of us and about two hundred of the men were...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 1324

After two weeks the whole of the 2/6th QRR travelled from Haltwhistle to Kent. We initially went to a village between Canterbury and Faversham. All place names had been removed and the local people did not seem very keen to let us know where we were. After pulling their legs they said that it was Boughton Stour. We were not allowed to go out of the village and we had to go around with a rifle and 50 rounds at all times. After a week or so we moved to the Isle of Sheppey. Later our unit moved around various parts of Kent and were based in Kent until November 1941. I noted that on the coast...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 958

During that summer I was able to get back to Reading on a few occasions and visit my family and the Peacheys. I would go out with the twins and Lawrence to play bar billiards or darts or going to whist drives or go for a walk with Vera Peachey by Thames and in the park. On the Saturday 28th December 1940 I married Vera Peachey at Reading. I did not actually have the courage to ask her directly to marry me and so I asked her “what would you say if I asked you to marry me”, to which me she replied that she would say “yes, please” and so I then asked her to marry me. Afterwards Vera asked her...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 994

Chapter 6 Enfidaville

On 24th August 1942 our unit left Long Melford to go to Liverpool. We travelled from Liverpool on the “Franco” a 20 000 ton ship that usually traded between Liverpool and Canada. We were 4000 soldiers and officers. The ship normally carried 500 people and not everyone got bunks though I got one. Some kipped on the tables and under the tables and in the morning the smell was dreadful. After we had beans, porridge or semolina I was selected to complain to the authorities. The convoy consisted of 19 troopships plus two warships travelling to the Middle East...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 861

In November we sailed from Dolali for Basra in Iraq. We travelled from there by train; we stopped in Ur (where Abraham was born) for a cup of tea. We then travelled all night onto Baghdad. The carriage we were on was also used to carry horses so there were no seats. It was forty men or eight horses. We then went from Baghdad to Kirkuk. We were four miles from the Little Dab River and fourteen miles from Kirkuk. We were positioned there to protect the oil fields from a possible German break through in the Caucasus Mountains. We formed part of the 10th Army which itself was part of PAIFORCE...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 866

At this time the 56th Division consisted of three infantry brigades, one of which was the 169th (London) Brigade which was made up of the 2/5th, 2/6th and 2/7th Queens Royal Regiments. The 2/6th QRR was made up of four companies A, B, C and D plus a Head Quarters company. Each of A, B, C and D companies was made up of A, B and C platoon. In each platoon there was a lieutenant, a sergeant, two corporals and one lance corporal. The company was made up of a captain (Basil Bateman) plus batman (John Whittle), a company sergeant major (Mr Hearden) plus batman, a quarter-master sergeant or corporal...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 1057

At 2 a.m. on Wednesday 28th April 1943 the officer of Artillery, fifteen 25 pounders, ordered, via the tannoy, each gun to find its range. As soon as our guns started firing, the soldiers started cursing the officers. They told him to leave the bloody Germans alone ‘they will only pick on us’ and they further said that ‘they wanted a bit of kip’.

Captain Basil Bateman (Bill) and I shared the same trench in the reverse line and the front line. I always stood on the left of the trench and him on the right. Obviously we were very close and enjoyed a bit of a chat and a laugh from...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 902

Our immediate problem in returning to our unit was that we had to go back through our own mine field. We knew the way in daylight but it was now 10 p.m. and it was a very dark night. Captain Bateman’s driver said he thought that he knew the way and that if I drove he would direct me. The driver, however, soon seemed to become confused and we stopped and the Captain told me to get out of the jeep and try and find the way on foot with the jeep following. I walked carefully forward between the two lots of mines with tape to indicate the way. The driver was, however, too close behind me and ran...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 923

At 6 p.m. I listened to the BBC North African Service which announced that “Meanwhile there has been heavy fighting north of Enfidaville”. The reporter said that the unit that had fought north of Enfidaville had taken the hill but then had lost it again and had been driven back to their old positions and that there was heavy fighting at this moment.

All this time I was lying on a stretcher with lots of wounded men all around. The day had been like all the other days in Tunisia, sunny and warm. The medical staff seemed to be working hour after hour without a break, the ones whom I...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 983

Since we had to spend all day with little to do, I and many others often spent an hour or two trying to make ourselves presentable. Since I had a cast on my leg I could not take a bath. On 16th May 1943, I was interviewed by the Medical Officer, a captain. He apparently decided after the interview that I should go first to South Africa and then to England and to be discharged from the army for ‘ceasing to fulfil army physical requirements.,

It was the sister who asked the Company Sergeant Major, who had a bed near me, to tell me that I was going back to the UK. When I returned to...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 908

As Leslie had commented, I was missing seeing Dorothy growing up but Vera wrote regularly keeping me up to date with how Dorothy was getting on. Vera was at this time sharing rooms in Prospect Street, Reading with a number of others including her father, her sister Violet Queenie and her sister in law Edith, who was married to Jack Peachey. Edith lived with their two daughters Mavis and Edith and Violet who had by now married Ron Chapman, an RAF navigator, and was expecting their first child. It was hoped at one time that Ron would be transferred to the Egypt and be able to visit me but instead...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 886

I always worried when I did not get a letter for along time. It was the bombing that I worried about mostly. I thought that the air letters were a bit delayed, also the daft, incompetent people here who run the post office had not even got my name on the list and any letters that might have arrived here for me from the 42nd were sent to 2nd Echelon. We did not have to do any work and we paraded once a day for roll call. All the chaps were waiting to go home and the chief topic of consideration was shipping. I had recently met some chaps from India and Ceylon and I got on with them very well....
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 862

After Christmas at home I was told to report to Battle Hospital, Reading where I spent two weeks in bed with lots of soldiers who had been prisoners of war and had developed TB. I understand that there had been a special exchange of prisoners of war between Germany and Britain organised by the Swiss Red Cross. One soldier told me that he had been a sergeant under Captain Jardean who had captained the England cricket team in Australia in 1932. The soldier said that he had had a fight with Jardean and had knocked out two of his teeth. As a result of this he had been court-martialled and reduced...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 816

I was one of six male students who were paid for by the T.U.C. scholarship. I walked from the bus towards the Rookery, now known as Ruskin Hall. I noted there were three pubs and a lovely old church, I was the first to arrive. The staff addressed me as ‘sir’ and told me where my bedroom was. No one had their own bedroom, I shared one with four other students. Before long John Boyle introduced himself to me. He was one of the nicest men I have ever met. I said “I suppose you are a clerical worker?” “No” he answered, “I am a road sweeper”. He was one of the students who studied the novel....
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 860

In 1949 food was still in short supply and rationed. I received the following letter from the TUC which rather showed the desperate state of Britain at that time.

The Trades Union Congress
Transport House
Smith Square

6th January 1949

Dear Mr Whittle,
American Food Parcel

You will be receiving notification from the Co-operative for American Remittances to Europe that you are to receive a food parcel from the United States. Your name has been forwarded to the organisation by this Office, and for your personal information,...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 801

I was taught to speak again by two Speech Therapists who were young, very tolerant and helpful. In early 1954 the Deputy Education Officer, Surrey County Council spent ninety minutes talking to me and he told me that as long as he is in his job I would be safe. Also the local Trade Union officer said that they would try to ensure that I would not lose my job. But the fact was that a long a long time I could not actually do my job properly and I was left with a weak right hand. I can now speak nearly as well as I used to be able to do.

I was not actually expected to regain the...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 767

In 1955 we moved to Redhill in Surrey, I continued as Youth Employment Officer until 1965.  I used to give talks at schools about the possible careers for pupils. 
         I am the Youth Employment Officer, and my job is to advise young people of the type of employment to...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 0 - Views: 891

In 1961 Dorothy married and in 1962 gave birth to a son Mark Robert, the first of seven grandchildren for Vera and myself.  From 1965-77 I worked at Surrey County Hall, Kingston dealing with Further Education Department in Degrees etc. also with Short Courses for Teachers – mainly three day courses also statistics.  Rosemarie set off on a series of travels in the 1960s; in 1967 she set off to visit the Middle East travelling overland; I was pooh-poohed when I warned about the possibility of trouble their but turned out to be right when war broke out.  In 1969 Timothy became...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 6 - Views: 1161

As well as my father's writings which I have now edited into a book, I also found about 50 wartime letters.  These are mostly between my parents during the period that my father was in the Middle east but there are some others as well.  I will past a few which I think provide quite a fascinating insight to wartime life.

The first one is quite short from my father having gone aboard the troop transport in 1942

From 5343206 Pte J Whittle A Coy 2/6 Queens: APO 2005 25th August 1942
Mr Darling Vera,
I am now able to tell you that I am on board ship and I am OK.  I am...
by Tim of Aclea - Comments: 15 - Views: 1348
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