Family and WWII: The Beginning of a New Passion

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  Thanks!


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