Monday, 5 May 2014

52 Ancestors - Mumps and marriage!

Just a short story this time, one of many that I am lucky enough to be able to tell about my maternal grandparents Geoff and Elsie Doughty.

Looking back at his memoirs, it seems that wartime heralded the start of a new life for my Grandad.  He hadn't had a good childhood - he was the youngest but one of nine children, there was often no money, there were even days where he couldn't go to school because his clothes had been taken to the pawn shop so his mother could feed the family. 

In 1941, aged 20, he joined the RAF.  It wasn't an easy process - a congenital heart defect meant he was passed around several doctors and in the end he was given the option - he could join up, but would have to stay in the UK, or he could go back to civvy street.

Having been a member of the St John Ambulance Brigade for several years, he asked to join the medical side of the RAF, and was accepted.  

 As soon as he joined up, he changed his name from Percy to Geoffrey - he felt his childhood name was just a reminder of what was, in his words, a "miserable childhood".

After training, and passing as a nurses orderly, he was posted to 16.M.U. (Maintenance Unit ) which  supplied parts for the Air Force.The total of personnel on six sites was about 4,000 mixed Airmen and W.A.A.F.’S.  He had to report to the Small Station Sick quarters which dealt purely with illnesses such as flu - and mumps.

My grandmother, Elsie, was in the WRAF and although she had already had mumps twice she managed to get it a third time.  Third time lucky though, as - you guessed it - she was taken to the small station sick quarters where my Grandad was serving.  She was in quarantine, and bored stupid, and my Grandad used to pull faces at her through the ward windows to cheer her up.  (Note - he was always good at pulling faces, I can remember him doing that to me as a child!).

Once she recovered, he got the courage together to ask her out - and after just six months they were married, in Elsie's home town of Wakefield.  As you can see from the photo, rations meant my Grandmother was unable to get a full weding dress, but my Grandad did manage to get a pin-striped suit.  Their reception was also fairly typical of wartime weddings, a small affair held at Elsie's parents' home.

Thirteen months later, my Mum was born - but that is another story for another day.

Geoffrey (Percy) Doughty 1921 - 2011
Elsie Doughty (nee Bottomley) 1920 - 1986


1 comment:

  1. I love the story of how they met, that you know it and have been able to preserve it.