Family and WWII: The Beginning of a New Passion

Spring 1916: Officers of the 6th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers. Winston Churchill and commanding officer, Captain Sinclair as Second in Command

I will freely admit that I have more than one passion in life; photography, music, bookbinding and embroidery to name a few, but I recently gained a new found passion for learning all I could about WWII brought on from my yearning to know more about my family’s history and the part they played during those 6 long years. Once I started combing through the always insightful YouTube videos and webpages I became entranced by everything that had happened, especially to London, and now I am fixated on finding out more. I figured the best way to gain good knowledge was to start from within my family so this is the beginning of my learning experience.

Spring 1916: Officers of the 6th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers. Winston Churchill and commanding officer, Captain Sinclair as Second in Command
Spring 1916: Officers of the 6th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers. Winston Churchill (right) and commanding officer, Captain Sinclair, as Second in Command

I’ve always known our family had an RAF background during the war. My great uncle was in the RAF and I think he flew the glorious Lancaster. My grandfather, Robin, was a Mosquito pilot during the 1940’s and flew reconnaissance missions through enemy territory. My great-grandfather, Sir Archibald Sinclair, was Secretary of State for Air under Churchill and helped put into place many of the air raids that the RAF conducted. He was chosen for the position in 1940 by Churchill himself and worked closely with him up until the end of the war in 1945.  The two had previous dealings with the Germans during the first World War so Churchill knew he could count on Archie to be his ally and a firm friend in his war cabinet.

Archie and Marigold with Catherine (left) Elizabeth (right) and baby Robin
Archie and Marigold with Catherine (left) Elizabeth (right) and baby Robin

My great-grandfather was a strong and determined man who definitely knew what he wanted to achieve and jolly well went for it. A good example of this is when he met my great grandmother, Marigold Forbes, and they were married within six weeks of meeting each other. It was instant love and they were married in 1917 and celebrated 53 years together until his death in 1970. In his private life he was said to be quite content with pottering around his family home in Caithness with his four children; Catherine, Elizabeth, Robin and Angus, Robin being my grandfather. Although his political life and his family life were like chalk and cheese, he was devoted to them in their own ways and dedicated time to each in a harmonious manner.

His dedication and fierce devotion to his country meant he was always committed to peace rather than going to war however he also knew that Britain would need to be strong against the rising threat that Hitler posed during the 1930’s. He voiced his concerns to the members of parliament and fought Neville Chamberlain tooth and nail over the dealings he had with Hitler, but very few people believed things would go badly and it wasn’t until Czechoslovakia was completely taken over by Hitler that all of my great-grandfathers predictions started to become a reality. Too little, too late though and by September 1939 Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declared war against Germany and Archibald was thrust once again into the destructive force that was WWII.

I now spend my evenings travelling back 76 years in time to 1939 to immerse myself in London life; the music, the people, the danger and heartache. I am also learning about the RAF, the WAAF (Women Auxiliary Air Force), The Blitz and everything else in between. There is a fascinating documentary called Blitz Street which was produced by Sir Tony Robinson. You can find the videos here and he details just how destructive the various bombs used by the Germans actually were. Starting with the SC50 he proceeds to destroy two rows of purpose built townhouses until they get to the very last and biggest bomb within Hitlers arsenal, the V-2. Watch for the milk bottle…

As I go I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I eventually hope to use the information I gather and the knowledge I learn to write a book. I don’t know exactly the type of story yet but there’s something there that my brain has decided is worth doing! What I would love though are more stories; if you or any of your family were involved with the RAF, the WAAF, or were just civilians trying to get through the dark days in London I would very much love to hear from you. Stories of everyday life, routines, adventures and experiences. Please email me at louisatheauthor@gmail.com  Thanks!

Watching the birth of a DIY Dad

DIY Dad     It all started on Sunday night. Our basement loo (toilet) has always been a bit damp but we could not figure out where the seeping was coming from. We had removed various chunks of the wall thinking the problem was there but to no avail. It wasn’t until my husband started following the wet marks that it lead him to the floor, under the tiles and to the loo. Having lived with the problem for nearly 2 years, Hubby decided enough was enough and, after careful consultation from various YouTube videos, removed the loo. Not only did he find the problem (it had been replaced and never sealed) he discovered the previous owner was absolutely sh*te at DIY – and he’s done a lot!

Long story short, Hubby completely fixed the loo, re-sealed it and replaced it. But that wasn’t the end of it, oh no! There was more water coming from somewhere! This time is was the drainpipe leading from the kitchen down to the laundry room and it, too, had a slow but messy leak. I’ll never forget the look of slight dubiousness in Hubby’s eyes as he made the decision to cut all the old pip out and replace it but he did a marvelous job!  Oh, did he look proud of himself! He walked around the house with his chest out for a while afterwards. It is amazing how much one can learn from YouTube. Hubby must have watched at least 10 videos before launching into the job. His mecca is now Home Depot and he’s eyeing up power tools the way a woman might eye up a pair of shoes or a new handbag!

I think doing DIY is a right of passage for a man and if the job is done properly, true pride just flows from him.  I don’t know if the previous owner ever felt like that and if he did then he was very deluded. Unsealed pipes and unsealed loos aside he also saw fit to glue a bookcase to the dining room wall – WHO DOES THAT?! All it would have taken is 2 screws, already there and ready to go…but he glued it. WITH MIGHTY PUTTY! I now have to repair two walls and repaint them. He also silicone sealed a plastic dryer pipe to the vent when it specifically stated on the dryer not to due to danger or death. Didn’t family safety ever cross this guy’s mind? I know people might like to cut corners but when something says not to do something due to the fact it could kill your family, you would want to follow that instruction and do the job properly, no? Thanks to my DIY Hubby, we now have a very swanky, clean not to mention fire hazard free steel pipe.

That’s just a few of the crazy DIY jobs that we have discovered. The really scary thing is the deck was built by him too…

What do you get when you cross ‘Clone Wars’ with Chiyogami paper?

This:

The latest and greatest!

Some people listen to music, others might have the news on. Me? I watch the animated series ‘Clone Wars’ while I create new books. This one is probably my best effort to date. When I look at it I remember Ahsoka having visions of Padme being assassinated (Ahsoka saves the day, naturally.)

If only there was Star Wars themed paper…I’m going to have to look into that…

 

UPDATE! April 5th 2014 – you will find this book, and others, in my Etsy shop!