A Valentine Tribute

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Sue
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A Valentine Tribute

Post by Sue » 13 Feb 2013, 22:08

To James Macgregor Marriott
My Dad, who died a year ago today
14th Feb1917- 14th Feb 2012


Valentines Day: A tribute

Valentines Day 1917 was a Wednesday. The third year of World War 1 was raging. David Lloyd George, a British Liberal politician and Statesman, was Prime Minister and had been leading a wartime coalition Government since 1916. George V was King of England, Aristide Briand was the President of France although he was replaced the following month and Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States. Finally Philip Morrell was the MP for Burnley serving from 1910 to 1918.

It was a memorable day for women. The National Women's Party in the USA led a picket line, part of their daily White House Patrol, elsewhere the report on the British Conference on electoral reform issued on the last day of January was reported in an Australian Newspaper.

In France 54 men were injured and 27 died after a rail accident near Rouen on the 13th February. It was an accident, and incident of low importance given the state of world politics at the time . The deaths were reported to have taken place on the 14th due to the time needed to identify the bodies. Two first class carriages and one third class carriage were completely destroyed. Elsewhere in Europe Jack Cratchley serving with the Sheffield City Battalion was filling in his journal entry in a hardcover,foolscap book. He wrote

' February 14th 1917
On fatigue morning, practice afternoon. At night we had just layed down when Fritz shelled the village. Shrapnel kept dropping on the roof of our billet.'

Nearer to home, U-boat Commander Otto Steinbrink was very busy off the coast of Bardsey Island near the Tlyn Peninsula. He sank 4 ships on that day, Ferga, Greenland, Inishowen Head and the Margarita. A total of 17 ships were sunk by U-boats around the English coast. At the same time Bruges harbour was bombed by British naval airmen and George V was under pressure because of his German ancestry. Indeed on June 19th of that year he changed the family name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor. Notable people born were American , Herbert Aaron Hauptman, a mathematician who gained a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1985, George Stanley Holiday, a British Bob sleigher who finished 7th in the 1948 Olympics and my Dad.

Dad was born by Caesarean Section at Burnley Victoria Hospital, 2 months premature. He was the smallest surviving Caesarean birth to that date. He was delivered by Dr Macgregor Sinclair a renowned gynaecologist of the time and in tribute to the Doctor, Macgregor became my Dad's middle name. My grandma kept Dad alive by feeding him with a fountain pen tube and keeping him warm in a drawer by the fire. At the time of his birth in Burnley there was no local paper to record this event or others of local importance, this was done by the Manchester Evening News, which reported on the football matches of the previous and following Saturdays. In true form Burnley was defeated by Liverpool and on the 24th it was reported that at the time of going to print they were losing to Manchester City 1-.0 at half time. The successful side going on to play Manchester United the following week. The story of your life Dad! The 13th saw advertisements for workers in the Burnley area whilst on the16th February it was reported that there was an acute shortage of labour for the looms and they were standing, although employment continued good with those employed.

So Dad was born. He was the second child, and later was one of three. By his 5th birthday he had a younger brother Robert. So what was happening in the world around by 1922. Winston Churchill was the Secretary of State for Colonies. On February 14th he addressed the Land Settlement Issue in Ireland and the retraining and support of ex-soldiers. Other key issues concerned India, Ceylon , the cost of living in Jamaica and Criminal Injuries (Awards). World and local politics were active through out the year, The Finnish politician Heikki Reitavuori was assassinated on the 14th, Wimbledon was completed and opened and close to my Dad's heart radio broadcasts were made public in the UK and France. On the 15th the Daily Mail reported that Burnley had transferred one of their players to South Shields for a record transfer fee of £4000. Trade in the big manufacturing centres of Burnley and Blackburn was suffering with 'much distress amongst the operatives' with nearly half the looms reported to be stopped.

What of the weather? On 14th February the Derby Daily Telegraph published an article about the Clerk of the Weather, who went to great pains to explain that 'this is the hardest part of the world to prophesy about the weather, and that England is on the knife edge between two different sorts of weather ' and...' I do not think the weather problem here will ever be an easy one'. No change there then. By the way Valentines Day 1922 was described as milder after early morning frost, with visibility moderate to good. Dad went to Coal Clough Lane Elementary school. On the 14th the Education cuts were discussed even though many schools were described as unsanitary, overcrowded and understaffed and class sizes up to 50 proposed . It was even proposed to raise the elementary school age to 6. Despite that there was a decline in infant mortality reported on the 15th.

The following year Dad was 6. Rumour has it that he was taken to see Burnley FC for the first time for his 6th birthday. There was certainly a match between Bolton Wanderers and Burnley reported on that day. Burnley lost 0-1 which could account for the classic story handed down that Dad thought he was going to the circus and when he asked at half time where the clowns were, a spectator announced that they had already been on.

The following years brought a sad decline in the life of my Dad. He remembered that on his 7th birthday he could just manage to reach the keyhole to let himself in after school. His mother was working and raising her three sons by herself, his father was working away or had even left the family home. We do not know the precise details. His eleventh birthday was spent off school, ill as he was for most of the year. By his 12th birthday his fortunes had changed, he had a new father and the family had relocated to Sheffield where he passed the 11+ for the local grammar school, a year late.

Dad was 21 in 1938. Perhaps he celebrated with a trip to Hull to see the dashing Leo Sheffield in the classic story of Captain Hook. He would have been cold, there was a gale blowing and the crew of a Humber bound tanker were fighting for their lives in the rough sea after an explosion. Perhaps he treated himself to a new fleecy lined jacket at 16s/11d. Perhaps he bought sweets at the local sweet shop and tried to woo the attractive 14 year old shop assistant. Well it was Valentines Day.

By Dad's 23rd birthday he was expecting an imminent call to join the forces, this in fact came in the March. Winston Churchill, now the First Lord of the Admiralty, was busy in the Commons again. He presented 16 speeches and answered questions on numerous topics including officers pay .The Battle of the Atlantic took place and a number of merchant ships carrying food to Britain were sunk by U boats. Britain announced that all merchant ships would be armed. 'Rebecca' with Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine was showing at the cinema and abroad there was a Valentines day blizzard in Boston with winds up to 40mph, which coincided with the release of 'Stormy Weather' by American Jazz singer Ivie Anderson. In England the weather was described as remarkedly cold with frequent sleet or snow showers. Brrrr. His 25th birthday was very sad. His brother Robert was killed on the 12th in a freak airfield accident, due to snow and ice conditions. My grandmas diary recalls that his body was brought home to rest in the living room arriving on the 14th. I cannot imagine the heartache that would have caused. It was about this time that a friendship was rekindled with the girl in the sweet shop, now a girl in a furniture shop in Sheffield, an employee of his father, and soon to be in the Land army in Derbyshire

And so life progressed. He was active in the RAF in Sheffield until he was demobbed due to ill health around his 27 th birthday. Following the death of her fiancée the girl in the sweet shop became his girlfriend, fiancée wife and a mother. Valentines days came and went lost in the whirlwind of family life , birth of children, new jobs, new homes, a life. A life which began to change in the 1990s. where ill health predominated and took a turn for the worse. Valentines Day 2001 saw Dad celebrating his 84th birthday lying in hospital where he had been for 6 months following a leg amputation of his schoolboy, and RAF, football shooting leg 'I could still give Burnley a run for their money with or without the leg, ' he often announced to anyone who would listen...By his 85th birthday the following year he was a widower and trying to build a new independent life for himself. He was a fighter, and he fought. He fought for years, until January 2012. 'I want to live to a 100,' he used to say but this became, 'I will be happy with 95.' And so it was on Valentines Day 2012, just after midnight on the morning of his 95th birthday James Macgregor went to join his brothers, his parents and the girl from the sweet shop. Valentines Day will never mean the same again. What of Burnley on that day. They beat Barnsley 2-0 . I think Dad was blowing the football towards the goal.

RIP Dad

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Last edited by Sue on 14 Feb 2013, 08:12, edited 1 time in total.
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Stanley
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Re: A Valentine Tribute

Post by Stanley » 14 Feb 2013, 04:07

That's nice Sue and well written as well. He would have been very pleased I think....
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Re: A Valentine Tribute

Post by Wendyf » 14 Feb 2013, 08:15

Thank you Sue. Very moving and an interesting read too.

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Re: A Valentine Tribute

Post by Sue » 14 Feb 2013, 08:49

I enjoyed researching it on Monday afternoon when I was feeling particularly low. I used British Newspaper Archives online on my iPad whilst typing on my computer, sat in front of a nice warm fire. I could have gone on and on but decided to stick to key events and ages in anyone's life. I am still looking for the photo of my Dad with his Burnley scarf, I have it on my Ipad somewhere.
Last edited by Sue on 14 Feb 2013, 17:33, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Valentine Tribute

Post by PanBiker » 14 Feb 2013, 09:21

What a lovely tribute to your dad Sue.
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Moh
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Re: A Valentine Tribute

Post by Moh » 14 Feb 2013, 10:51

What a moving topic - brought tears to my eyes remembering my own dad.
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Re: A Valentine Tribute

Post by rossylass » 14 Feb 2013, 11:04

What a lovely tribute to your dad.

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Sue
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Re: A Valentine Tribute

Post by Sue » 14 Feb 2013, 17:36

Thank you all. My practical Dad would have loved the history links, but would have not coped with the emotion., but then neither did I!
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Re: A Valentine Tribute

Post by Sunray10 » 14 Feb 2013, 20:17

Thank you Sue that is a well researched piece of work and very moving - a great tribute to your father.

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