Sunday, 4 May 2014

Royal Artillery Attestation Papers (1883 -1942)

A day or so ago, I wrote about the Royal Artillery records that FindMyPast have just released. You can read that post HERE.

Later on I was involved in a conversation via Twitter with +Seonaid Harvey Lewis about the various purposes of the columns on the document.
Courtesy of FindMyPast
What a great conversation that was, but I also thought how useful it was. So I am sharing the explanation of the information below.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Royal Artillery Attestation Papers (1883 – 1942)

A few days ago, FindmyPast announced that they had released as part of their 100 record sets in 100 days the Royal Artillery Attestation Papers (1883 – 1942).

I already have my Grandfather’s military record which I ordered from Veteran Affairs back in 2008. The day it arrived I was away and Mum was as excited as I was to see what the record said.

This morning I went to the search facility and inserted my Grandfather’s name along with his year of birth (1908) and his service number which I knew from his military pay book. I hit search. Then, up popped a reference.

Courtesy of FindMyPast

I was surprised as usually anything in more recent times is withheld, but sure enough it was a document relating to my Grandfather. And something not seen before.

Courtesy of FindMyPast
I so wish Mum had been here to see this little discovery about her Dad. Today I miss her even more.

A similar post has been published by me at The In Memory of Quilt

Monday, 3 March 2014

George Butcher (1908 - 1974)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks
No Story Too Small
This post is for week 5 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge by Amy Crow from No Story Too Small.

You can read the list of my posts HERE

George Butcher circa 1940
I am way behind with this weekly look at my various ancestors, but what better way than commemorating what would have been my Grandfather's 106th birthday than to write about him this week.

My Grandfather was born to Charles Butcher and his wife, Annie Prudence nee Harris in 1908 in Wanborough Surrey. He was one of 9 children who survived into adulthood from a family of 12. 

Here he is aged 3 years old on the 1911 Census for Flexford a hamlet very close to Wanborough.
Image courtesy of Ancestry Surrey Collection
Class: RG14; Piece: 3098; Schedule Number: 44
The family remained at Wanborough until about 1925 when the family moved to Strawberry Farm at Worplesdon and then to their final destination of Manor Farm, Onslow Village Guildford.

Once working at Manor Farm he and his brothers took to having a "swift half" referring to a pint of beer, at The Plough Farnham Road Guildford. We know from my late Grandmother that, that was the same pub used by her brothers and I guess that is how the two families met. My Grandfather married my Grandmother in 1939 and his sister Marge married my Grandmother's brother in 1938.

I wish I could say that was the only family connection between the two families, it was not the other though took place about 100 years or so previously making my Grandparents 6th cousins!

My Grandfather worked on the land, along with his brothers and the majority of his brother in law's, and at some point moved to nearby Shackleford to live with his sister Ellen and her husband. In 1939 he married my Grandmother and they moved to Bright Hill Guildford.

My Grandfather was at this point working at Unigate Dairies when he remained working, apart from his military service until he retired in 1973.

In 1940, my Grandfather joined the Army. A man of principle. My Grandmother told me that she was really cross that he joined up rather than return to the farm where his family were, but the principle was his Country needed him and he was therefore doing his duty. How wonderful was that? His military life is well documented. I called for his service record back in 2008 and I recall Mum and I being so excited when it arrived. I talked about ordering it in this blog post. My Grandfather spent about two and a half years in West Africa. When he passed away he left a lovely piece of material which he had embroidered on symbols reflective of his time in the military in Africa, which now hangs on my landing in a lovely frame. His pay book and his medals, which now hang framed on my landing.
J Goucher - October 2008
There is so much of his life that I still want to unravel, and those appear in my actions list below. 

After the war, my Grandfather returned to Unigate Dairies. He worked up until he was 65 and was presented with a gold watch in recognition of 30 years loyal service. I still have that watch. As retirement neared, he was, along with another colleague asked to stay on whilst someone was on sick leave. He and the other colleague did.

Then serendipity struck. The colleague who also stayed on beyond retirement for a few months, was taken ill about the same time as my Grandfather. They were diagnosed and admitted to the same hospital with the same condition. They both died on the same day, 20th July 1974 at exactly twelve hours apart, my Grandfather at 9am. It was more than a decade later when I was at senior school I realised that I was class mates with the grandson my Grandfather's colleague. The cause of both deaths was lung cancer, caused by a mixture of smoking, inhalation of coal fumes, asbestos and whoever knows what else.

As a small child I loved to sit and snuggled with my Grandfather. He was, like my Mum taken before their time, both at the age of 66 years. When he was at Milford Chest Hospital I would be taken to visit him. I was never frightened of the cables, wires and strange hospital machine noises and perhaps it was that, that in some way made me quite comfortable with hospitals, the machines and illness.

Perhaps it is those early memories that encouraged me to become the person I have in the profession I chose; undertaking my time in the hospital environment. A complete contrast to my Mum who hated hospitals with a passion because of her early experiences. Those experiences which without doubt made my Mum's last few months difficult for her and it was a pleasure for me to support her. Sometimes in life it would seem, there are these curiosities, coincidences, and things that happen for a reason.

After my Grandfather died in July 1974 he was cremated at Guildford, the Crematorium has the Book of Remembrance on-line which can be searched here
From the Book of Remembrance at Guildford Crematorium Sourced 3rd March 2014
What is interesting about the entry, is that I am completely missing from the entry. I have the original bill for the funeral and the bill for the entry into the Book of Remembrance, so perhaps it was around cost that I was omitted. Who knows? As a child, we routinely visited the Crematorium to see his name in the book on the anniversary of his death date. We would ask the Crematorium always to look at his entry on his birthday and at Christmas. Why my Grandmother did that I don't know, but it is something that my Mum continued and now I shall. My Grandmother lived another twenty one years and missed her beloved George every day.

  1. Decipher military record
  2. Check directories 1939 - 1974
  3. Unigate History and Employment Record
  4. Update George's War more frequently
  5. Research meeting with George Formby

Thursday, 28 November 2013

More on Employment and Lymposs & Smee

My Grandfather worked for Lymposs & Smee diary, who were a well known Guildford based company. The picture here, shows an early milk bottle from the company, this dates to around 1930.

After my Grandfather returned from military service in 1946 he returned to Lymposs & Smee. The company itself did not fair especially well. as they
went into Voluntary Liquidation in 1955 and from what I have been able to establish were acquired by the Home Counties Dairies, which effectively became part of Unigate.

Unigate themselves was the result of a merger between United Dairies and Cow and Gate who were another well know Guildford business.

Here is the Voluntary Liquidation notice from the London Gazette 22nd April 1955.

"LYMPOSS and SMEE Limited.
(In Voluntary Liquidation.)
NOTICE is hereby given, in pursuance of sections 290 and 341 (1) (b) of the Companies Act, 1948,that a General Meeting of the above-named Company will be held at Central Buildings, Guildford, on Tuesday the 24th May, at 2.30 p.m. for the purpose of having an account laid before the Members showing the manner in which the winding-up has been conducted and the property of the Company disposed of, and also of determining by Extraordinary Resolution the manner in which the books, accounts and documents of the Company and of the Liquidator shall be disposed of. A Member entitled to attend and vote at the above Meeting may appoint a proxy or proxies to attend and vote instead of him. A proxy need not be a Member of the Company.—Dated this 19th day of April, 1955. (255) G. M. LYALL, Liquidator."

Since last week, I have often thought of that early memory and today, whilst Mum was here asked her what else she could recall, and through the course of the conversation, she suddenly announced that sometimes on his day off, he would take Mum to work with him, when he called in to see his colleagues. This would have been the early 1950's. Mum then relived that memory of the noise and the smell of milk. How wonderful is that?

At this time, it was traditional to have a job for life; and after 25 years to be given a watch by the employer. Those days of long gone, but as my Grandfather approached 25 years of service, Unigate changed the rules and made it 30 years. Well he achieved that and was presented with the watch; a watch that I now have. Just after he was awarded with his watch they changed the rules and reduced the time period back down to 25 years..

When he first started working at the dairy, he worked in the dock area. This was where the vehicles that had collected the milk from the farms would be. The milk was in churns and it was tipped into a devise that processed the milk to make to fit for human consumption. He then moved onto the bottling section. Here is where the processed milk was obviously bottled. His job was to ensure that the bottles were filled and aligned properly ready for capping and then moved into crates before being dispatched with the milkman for delivery the next day. At the time of his official retirement in March 1973 he was a foreman, making sure that the chaps worked and went for lunch at the right time and so forth.

In March 1973, as he approached his 65th birthday and retirement, he was asked if he would stay on a few months and work to cover another foreman's shifts as that chap was sick. My Grandfather agreed and then worked in part of the business called "the dump".

The dump was where the fresh and clean bottles would arrive all wrapped in plastic. Here they would be processed - sterilised and cleaned before being sent across to the main dairy building. He worked here with another chap, whose name Mum can not remember, but like my Grandfather he was about to retire. My Grandmother always maintained that there was something about the plastic that had caused some issues, as for some reasons's cigarettes that were lit in the general area would frequently go out and the plastic had a "funny smell". Whatever the issue, this chap and my Grandfather both passed away on the same day - 20th July 1974, my Grandfather at 9am and this chap at 9pm, both of lung cancer. Curious.

Whilst Mum could not recall the name of other man who passed away she could recall some of the colleagues:
  • Bill Nicholson - A manger 
  • Ron Atkinson - Foreman, who had a very bronchial chest and was the reason my Grandfather stayed on after his retirement in March 1973.
  • Ernie Weller - Manager
  • Mrs Weller - wife of Ernie who worked in the office and whose maiden name was Chambers
  • The chap who passed away in July in fact lived next door to the dairy.
The Roots of Lymposs & Smee, go back further than the 1930's as this picture shows.

Here they are referred to as Lymposs and Son. 

This firm operated from two dairies in Guildford, addresses at High Street and Woodbridge Road. Lymposs and Son eventually merged with another diary to create Lymposs and Smee.

The address of Woodbridge Road was still connected to Unigate in the early 1970's as this where the location of "the dump" was.

So, from a question posed by someone several thousand miles away (+DearMyrtle)
it triggered a memory that I had, and a memory, almost identical to mine, that my Mum had. I had already done some research into Lymposs and Smee as part of my Guildford and District collection

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Lymposs and Sons

Handcart and milk maid from Lymposs and Son Dairy. This firm operated from two dairies in Guildford, addresses at High Street and Woodbridge Road. Lymposs and Son eventually merged with another diary to create Lymposs and Smee.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

George Butcher 1908 - 1974

Today, commemorates the death of my Grandfather, George Butcher. Born in 1908 in Wanborough he was one of 9 children who survived into adulthood from a family of 12.

My Grandfather was a man of principle, at the time of the Second World War he was working for Unigate Dairies at Guildford. His three brothers and oldest sister Rose, who was married was living at Manor Farm Guildford. Two of his other sisters was living in nearby Shackleford, Hurtmore and the second eldest was living in Essex with her husband who was a military man.

Whilst it would have been a much safer and easier option to have started working at the farm, my Grandfather joined up. He had been married under a year. My Grandmother told me she was furious, but his principle was one of things she loved about him, and he was absolutely doing the right thing.

He joined Army and after training left for over 2 years in Sierra Leone, before returning to England and then onwards to Europe. I sent off for his service record a few years ago and I am trying to piece together his life during those war years.

Upon returning from the army, he resumed working at Unigate and did so until he retired in May 1973, having been asked to carry on working for a few months by Unigate. Looking forward to retirement he fell ill and suffered from breathing difficulties, and died at Milford Chest Hospital on 20th July 1974 aged 66 years.

My Grandmother spent the next 21 years a widow, and often talked about him. I once asked her if she had ever wanted to remarry. Her response was, "you only meet perfection once and one day you will know what I mean". When I married in the summer of 1994 I knew just what she meant.

George Butcher 1908 - 1974

Monday, 8 July 2013


Trying to piece together my Grandfather's life before he joined the Army in 1940 has been slow. Frustrating, as within living memory I could have had the answers. I have been researching my ancestry since the mid 1980s and there are still questions that I should have asked.

At his marriage to my Grandmother, Lilian Edith Matthews in November 1939, George's occupation is recorded as a dairy labourer. This appears on his enlistment papers in 1940. So, where did he work?

I recall back in the early 1970s being allowed to "visit" him at work. Perhaps with my Grandmother who called in to the Unigate depot in Stoke Road, Guildford. My, the noise was dreadful and the smell of milk truly shocking. Even now I can not bear the smell of milk, especially warm milk.

My Grandfather retired from Unigate in May 1973. He was 2 months past his 65th birthday, but had been asked to stay on a couple of months as a colleague by the name of Atkinson was off sick. By then he had been employed by the company for approximately 34 years. A true job for life.

At his retirement he received the then standard, gold watch. My Grandmother was sent flowers and Mum remembers them being taken for a meal out.

Milk bottle dating to 1930
I have been plotting the history of Unigate and have found it fascinating. It seems that initially my Grandfather had worked for the Guildford based company Lymposs and Smee.

Lymposs and Smee went into Voluntary Liquidation in 1955 and from what I have been able to establish were acquired by the Home Counties Dairies, which effectively became part of Unigate.

Unigate themselves was the result of a merger between United Dairies and  Cow and Gate who were a well know Guildford business. Certainly the Unigate Company address was in Stoke Road Guildford and that is where I recall the depot being.

Lymposs & Smee, Guildford

"LYMPOSS and SMEE Limited.
(In Voluntary Liquidation.)
NOTICE is hereby given, in pursuance of sections 290 and 341 (1) (b) of the Companies Act, 1948,that a General Meeting of the above-named Company will be held at Central Buildings, Guildford, on Tuesday the 24th May, at 2.30 p.m. for the purpose of having an account laid before the Members showing the manner in which the winding-up has been conducted and the property of the Company disposed of, and also of determining by Extraordinary Resolution the manner in which the books, accounts and documents of the Company and of the Liquidator shall be disposed of. A Member entitled to attend and vote at the above Meeting may appoint a proxy or proxies to attend and vote instead of him. A proxy need not be a Member of the Company.—Dated this 19th day of April, 1955.
(255) G. M. LYALL, Liquidator."

Source - The London Gazette 22nd April 1955

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Ordering the Service Record

Over on the WWII Talk Forum I read details of how to obtain a copy of my Grandfather's Service Record, so at the end of September I downloaded the form from the MOD website, and completed the details. The record is only released to the Serviceman or woman themselves, or their next of kin. Mum signed the paperwork and I signed the cheque!

On 2nd October I received a letter from the Historical Disclosure Department. To obtain the record was going to take four months - that made than January 2009, not as bad as I thought. I had heard rumours it took nearly 6 months.

Letter from MOD Historical Disclosure Department - George Butcher Service Record

So, imagine how surprised I was when Mum phoned to say that the record had arrived on 12th October. I can only guess that this was down to the copies of documents that I included with my application form.

These were:
  • A copy of the first page of the Service/Pay book
  • A copy of both the death certificates for my Grandparents
  • The Next of Kin Disclosure form
  • A cheque for £30

Friday, 17 October 2008

An Introduction to the coin

When I was about 2 or 3 my grandfather gave me a small leather purse, measuring about 1.5" x 1". Inside was a small coin, which is square. Its a little tarnished, but from research I did about 15 years ago, It was given to soldiers in Holland during WWII.

My grandfather died in 1974 and I have treasured this little purse and unusual coin ever since.

A couple of years ago, I had a closer look and noticed that on the back is some writing. At the top left it says Watchmaker. Scrolled across the middle it reads H Venables and at the bottom right it gives the address of Market Street Guildford.

According to the Kelly's Directory of 1963, H Venables was a jewellers whose premises was at 22, Market Street, now long since gone.

The coin has been difficult to photograph, even with a good camera, it has not been easy to get a close up of it. On one side is 5c with the date of 1939 and on the reverse KONINGRIJK.DER.NEDERLANDEN, which translates to Kingdom of the Nederlands.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Getting started...

I have always wondered just why my Grandfather choose to join the Army. In 1940 my Grandfather was working as a milk labourer at what became Unigate Milk Company in Guildford, while his three brothers worked at Manor Farm, on the land that now houses the University at Guildford. Many a man (and I guess, woman) would have found work at the farm, and taken what could have been described as the easy life, or at least easy in comparison to war.

My Grandfather returned to Guildford after the war, and didn't discuss his war time efforts, certainly not with me, his only Grand daughter, nor with his wife and grown up child. After his death in the 1970s, all that was left behind of his war time life was a few photos, a square coin in a small leather purse that I had been given as a very small child,a box housing his four medals and a peice of material, with embroidered detail in the corners.

About ten years ago I arranged for a company to professionally frame the medals and the embroidered cloth. Both now hang proudly on the landing, where I see them everyday and feel, like so many of us, very proud of our ancestors.