My father was born on 23rd November 1916 in Catford, South London and baptized Allan James.
This is the earliest photo I have of him. They moved about a bit, to Birmingham, to Llanelli, to Burry Port and ended up in Cardiff.
Here he is on holiday somewhere or other, but it would be in South Wales. He came from a very devout Catholic family and was an alter boy at Mass. Unfortunately he got drummed out as he and his friend were found pissed on alter wine. He always was a disrespectful little bugger. He enrolled at the Nautical College at Cardiff University as a Cadet and learned to be a sailor.
This is him in his Cadet costume. He hadn't been at the college long when his loving and much loved father, James Allan died.
Photographs of Grandpa Jimmy are rare, but this is one with my father and my wonderful and naughty Grandma Gladys. Grandpa Jimmy was on leave from the First World War at the time. He had been somewhere in the desert and suffering great thirst. My grandmother sent him some Andrew's Liver Salts as she thought it would be 'refreshing'. It gave all the soldiers diarrhoea.
Money was a bit tight when Grandpa died, so my father offered to leave the college and become a postmaster, something he had secretely wanted since being a little boy. My grandma wouldn't hear of it and promptly married George who had had his eye on her for years!
This is their wedding day. Grandma grew to love George and they had a very happy and loving marriage. I remember him as one of the kindest men I have every met. One day little Maalie in a fit of hyper-activity, knocked the heads off the beloved peonies that George had cultivated from seeds. His reaction was to bite his lips together, then hiss: "the little devil", stomp off to his potting shed to recover, come out again, pick up young Maalie and kiss him!
However, I digress. War came and Daddy went to sea.
On one of his leaves he met Hilda Gertrude, fell in love and they became engaged. On another leave, she was waiting at the quayside to greet him as his boat came in, and he shoved a brown paper parcel in her hands. She opened it. It was a length of white silk he had bought in the Far East. He asked whether she could get it made up into a wedding dress, as he had a week's leave. They got married by special licence and had a two-day honeymoon in Porth Cawl. When he returned to Cardiff, he found his ship had suffered damage in a bombing raid and it was six weeks before it was fit to leave again, so they had six wonderful weeks living on board.
This is their honeymoon photo!
My father had many adventures during the war, which are for another post. But the greatest one was when he was torpedoed off the coast of Africa. When they were in the lifeboat the U-boat surfaced and came along side them. The Master offered to take them back to Germany as prisoners of war, or to let them take their chances in the lifeboat. By mutual consent they decided to stay in the lifeboat. The German Master then offered them food, water and first aid which was gratefully accepted. The U-boat submerged and buggered off.
To be continued.......