JOHN 'CHARLIE' WELCHMAN
My full name is John Albert Ross Welchman. I was born on the 8th of May 1939. in Delhi, India. At that time my father was restaurant manager of the railway station in Delhi. Dad and Mum had also lived in Madras and Ralazpur. At the outbreak of World War 2 ( Sept ‘39 ) we moved to Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan). The reason for this was the enlistment of my father (Percy Albert) into the Indian Army Ordinance Corps as a commissioned Lieutenant. He served in the Corps until 1947. He had also served in the Somerset Light Infantry during the First World War. In total Dad lived in India for over 30 years as his Battalion was in India during World War One.
The only recollection that I have of those early years is the death of my mother in ‘47 from a haemorrhage after an operation on her Goitre. My two sisters, the youngest, Una, was 14 years older than me and Hilda, the eldest, both married in India. Una on the 10 December 1945 in Rawalpindi. Hilda, 27 December 1941 to a Freddy Moss (Army) and Una to Maurice Kent, (Royal Army Ordinance Corps). Only details I have of my two Brother-in-Law’s is that Maurice joined the Army in August 1938. When Dunkirk was going on Maurice was rescued from St. Marlow. Una had three children. Two girls and very much later a boy when she was in her late 30’s. Freddy Moss had been married before and had two teenage sons.
I do remember that I was looked after by an Iya (Indian female servant) who had to be given other duties in the household as I was speaking Urdu instead of English. School, at the age of 5, was as a day border at a Convent in Nowshera, North of Rawalpindi. I also remember our train journeys from Rawalpindi to Lahore to visit Hilda who was living in that city. There wasn’t any air-conditioning in those days, so in our private train compartment we had a very large receptacle on the floor which contained a large block of ice. This was our ‘air-conditioning’. At every station stop we would have the porter tip away the melted water and another large block of ice put into it to continue the process of trying to keep us cool.
In 1947 India became independent and partition took place and we had to move back to England. Travelling from Rawalpindi to Bombay by train, we could see the dead bodies piled up at the stations, which was the result of the Muslims and other denominations murdering each other as they each swapped over from Pakistan to India and visa versa. We travelled back from Bombay by Troop Ship. The ship was the SS Cythia and it took us , I think six weeks , as we had to stop at Port Said, Egypt, to disembark and embark troops. I remember two things about the trip. When we had left Bombay far behind us and were steaming through the Indian Ocean, I decided to sit up near the bow (front end ) and due to the motion of the ship I became violently seasick. This lasted for several days. Also, it was so hot travelling through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, that the troops and us tried to find a place on deck at night to sleep. This journey took place without Hilda as she and her husband decided to stay in Lahore as Freddy was offered a civilian job with a transport company.
On arriving at Liverpool we journeyed down to Wateringbury, Kent. My Dad and I stayed with Maurice’s parents until Dad could find a place to live. His first job was for the Dock Police in Queensbrough, Isle of Sheppey. We rented a room with an elderly couple who had no children of their own. I used to keep Mice in a hutch in the garden until there were too many and then no more!
I was taking piano lessons with a private tutor and also sang in the choir of the local church. I think the denomination was Wesleyan as my Dad was of that faith. I had to attend choir practice during the week, go to piano lessons, sing in the choir Sunday morning, attend school church in the afternoon and service again in the evening. No wonder I gave up piano and eventually church. The next time I had to go to church was during my Army career. When we had to find new accommodation and Dad a new job, we moved to the other end of the Island where we lived in a large Nissin Hut ( made out of corrugated sheeting ). This was near the town of Lansdowne.
When Dad moved to Leicester in 1952, to work at the Ministry of Defence Records Office, it was decided that Una and Maurice should become my Guardians. Dad was then living in a guest house for long term borders and living in one room was not appropriate for me.
At that time Maurice and Una with Meryl and Merice (daughters) and myself were living in Married Quarters near the village of Syston. We lived there for a short period and then moved to Budbrook Barracks, the home of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. This camp was near Warwick and I remember going to Randolph Turpins house ( not too far away ) to see him, as he had just won the 1953 World Middleweight Boxing Championship. He had a pet monkey which used to sit on his front garden wall which we were allowed to play with.
In !953 we moved to Nairobi Kenya, as Maurice was appointed Warrant Officer, East African Ammunition Technician . As there was a shortage of married quarters we lived in a hiring which was in fact a hotel. You could hear the lions etc as the hotel was on the outsirts of Nairobi. When there was a shortage of food for the Hyenas we would get them rummaging around our dustbins at night. Every Saturday I would get my pocket money, 5 Kenyan Shillings (25p ) and catch the bus into Nairobi. In those days the buses were partitioned in the middle, white’s at the front and you can guess who sat at the back! I would sit in the back as it was a lot cheaper. Before I went to the pictures I would go into the big Ice-cream parlour and have a knickerblocker glory. This was the time of the Mau Mau and there were always troops patrolling around with rifles etc.
We got a letter from Freddy Moss, in Pakistan, to say that Hilda had died that year (‘53 ). She died giving birth to her 8th child. Through making contact with the Bishop of Lahore in 2008, I found out that she was buried in Lahore.
In 1954 ( 15 years of age ) I decided to join the Army. I took the entrants examination for the Engineer Boy’s School at Chepstow. I failed and then decided to join the Royal Armoured Corps as a boy entrant. The Boys Squadron Royal Armoured Corps was stationed at Bovington, Dorset I picked them as I was interested in tanks. I took the Oath of Allegiance to the Queen and was given a pair of coveralls and boots and worked each day in Headquarters East Africa as a runner and general dogsbody ( Gofer ) I received the princely sum of 17 shillings and 6 pence per week. I had to wait several weeks before I could get a flight home. In those days it took up to two/three days as we had to call in at Khartoum ( Ethiopia ) / El Adam, Libya and I think Malta. The flight out and back was from Blackbush airport. Now a large car auction place. The reporting place prior to flying out and returning was at a place called Goodge Street, Central London. It was in fact underground and a real dismal place. Remember, I was only 15 and travelling a great distance, on my own, for the very first time in my life.
I arrived at Wool Station in April ‘54 and proceeded to Bovington Camp. On arrival I was billeted in Dettingen Troop but there was only one other new ‘Boy’ as the rest of them were still on leave.. The boy was Chris Fox, who I still see today as he lives in Bridport. We slept in one of the large rooms of three that comprised Dettingen Troop. In each room was sixteen lads. Each Troop had a Boy Sgt, three Boy Corporals and 9 Boy Lance Corporals. The Troop was the responsibility of serving adult soldiers, an Officer and two Sergeants. These permanent staff were from the Regiments of the Royal Armoured Corps which at that time totalled twenty six. There were three other troops, named Alamein, Balaclava and Cambrai. The Commanding Officer was a Major. He was in the ( 9th Royal Lancers ) and his name, Hitchcock. I met him again in 1993 when he was a guest of honour at the very last parade before the disbandment of the then Junior Leaders Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps. It hade changed names in September of 1957.
Our wages each week for the first year was 5 shillings. The second year you became a Senior Boy and your pay went up to 10 shillings. The pay was in fact 17 shillings and sixpence so the rest went into a Post Office account. When we went on leave we were given two very large crisp WHITE £5 notes. This was taken from your account. Every Wednesday everybody had to go on a cross country run which was down the Morton track and across the tank driving area. I and a few of my mates formed a plan which was to take it in turns for one of us to be locked into one of our large lockers with a book and torch. This didn’t last long as they started to stamp your hand when you reached the point where you turned for home and the finishing point.
In our last year we got into all sorts of tricks and the one that stands out involved another boy and his very small three wheeler car. He used to keep it locked up in one of the tank hangers which had a very large inspection pit and when not in use was covered over with wooden sleepers ( used on the railway ). One night when he was out we removed the sleepers so that on arriving back and driving straight into the hanger disappeared down the steps into the pit. As his car was a very tight fit he couldn’t get out. We did release him in the morning.
One of our treats was to go up the hill to the cinema once a week . The first two rows of seats only cost four pence a ticket. Of course once we became senior boys we could afford the other seats which cost one shilling. One of the films we watched was Rock Around The Clock with Bill Haley. When it was shown in other parts of the country people were dancing in the aisles and some cinemas had their seats ripped to shreds by the hooligans of those days. They were called Teddy Boys. We being young soldiers were disciplined and conducted ourselves in an orderly manner.
At the start of my three years I had volunteered to join the band which performed on every parade that was held. I was a drummer and eventually became the leading tipper which meant that I played all the intricate bits ( i.e. drum solos’ ) Every Wednesday evening we performed during the interval at the Speedway Stadium in Poole.
During my three years with the ’Boys’ I went through the ranks to Boy Sergeant of the newly formed Troop called Tunis. This was in October ’56. During those years we did the usual things of foot drill, weapons and a lot of physical training. Also, we were trained in the different aspects of trade training. Wireless ( Radio ) communication, tank gunnery and driver training ( both on tanks and wheeled vehicles. ) When I joined my Regiment I was qualified in all three and had both my tracked and car licences. The other main part of our training was in education. There were three levels, 3rd, 2nd and Senior Certificate. You needed the Senior to obtain the rank of Warrant Officer during your adult service. When I left I only had my 2nd. I did get my Senior Certificate much later during my next twenty two years.
I left the ‘Boys’ in April ‘57 and joined the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment who were stationed in Detmold, West Germany. At that time there were eight Tank Regiments. Why I picked the 3rd I do not know as I could have gone to any of the others including the Cavalry. I was put in ’B’ Squadron and made friends quickly including a mate from the ’Boys’, Barry Routledge. I was the gunner on the Troop Leader‘s tank (2nd Lt. Allen). During my two and a half years with the 3rd I was
promoted to full Corporal and at one time my gunner was a National Serviceman called Julian Courthold. His family are the owners of a very large international company in England. His friend was another NS who was also the son of the well known family company, H Samuel’s, the very well known retail shops selling watches and jewellery. They received pocket money of £20 each every week on top of their Army pay ( 28 Shillings ) Every now and then their parents paid for them to fly home for a long weekend.
At this time my wages were £4 per week which was a vast difference to what they got! Because of Julian’s background, his main failing was being able to wash himself properly after a dirty working day on tanks. Consequently we had to teach him what is required of a clean soldier by giving him a Regimental bath. Cold water in a bath and scrubbed with a bass broom and carbolic soap. He soon learnt! ( I think you would call it bullying today ). In those day we were paid in BAFVS ( British Armed Forces Special Vouchers ). This was currency used by serviceman stationed in Germany. They could not be used in any German shops etc. There were threepenny, sixpenny, one shilling, five shilling, ten shilling and pound notes. If we wanted to go into town we had to order the amount of German Marks we required on the Wednesday as pay day was each Thursday. By Sunday you would have run out of Marks and there were lads who made a good living from selling theirs for a good rate of exchange, for them but not so good for you.
One thing that I remembered vividly, was the Barbers. They were both German and some of the lads, including me, would have our hair permed by them just before we went on leave. Mine was swept back in waves. This stopped when I went onto a crew-cut.
In ‘58 I went to the gunnery training establishment in North Germany to do my Assistant Instructors Course. As I did so well I was sent to Lulworth in April ‘59 for my three months Instructors Course. The highest mark that you could achieve was an ‘A’. I received a ‘B’ recommend which meant that I could be called back to Lulworth as an Instructor. More about this later.
On retuning to the Regiment I saw on daily orders that volunteers were required to join the 2nd Tanks who were being posted to Libya, North Africa with armoured cars and not tanks. As my regiment was amalgamating with the 6th Tanks, Barry Routledge and myself decided that there was more opportunity for promotion and adventure, so we put our names forward. In August of that year (‘59 ) we joined the 2nd Tanks rear party in Tidworth. Before leaving the regiment , whilst on exercise we decided to visit a German pub that was out of bounds to British troops. As it was our last fling we both had too much to drink and during our session the Military Police decided to visit the pub. This resulted in both of us making , or trying to make a quick getaway, out the back through the kitchens. Barry was a bit more inebriated than me and unfortunately got caught. Barry had to see the Colonel next day, but he was lucky, as he was leaving the regiment and got off the charge.
Three weeks later we were in Homs, North Africa. This was a camp some eighty miles down the coast from Tripoli. We were fully contained with two cinemas, one with no roof and the other with a roof for the winter months. These were proper cinemas as you would get in England. Apart from all the latest releases we would also have the latest celebrities visiting and performing on either of the two stages. These was the forces entertainment group’s that visited troops overseas. We also had our own beach virtually on our doorstep. As we only worked in the summer from 0700hrs to 1300hrs we were on the beach every day and at the pictures in the evening and then in our bar for a nightcap. My first year, of our three year posting was spent with Ajax Squadron in Benghazi. We were in an old Italian fort called D’Osta Barracks.
We still had our cinema but this was down town in Benghazi itself and also there was a soldiers bar. On a Saturday night we would have a few drinks ( hiccup! ) and then go to the Baranechi casino. This was a large establishment which had two roulette tables, poker tables and a night club downstairs. Remember now we were on Army pay so all we could afford was four blue chips worth 5 shilling each ( Libyan Piaster’s was the currency ). The oil men were playing with the equivalent of £100 pound chips. Only one chap was successful at the roulette. In the year he won enough to buy himself a brand new 1960 Volkswagen Beatle, cost him £400.
During that year of training one of the things we did was to take the whole Squadron out of barracks with our vehicles and followed the route that was taken by our regiment in the desert campaign of the Second World War. We started in the East of Libya and the first port of call was to see the monument erected at the location where one of the biggest tank battles took place during that campaign. It was called the battle of Knightsbridge. Next, was Merkeeli. A very large old Italian fort some 200 miles south east of Benghazi, where an account was read out from our Regimental history. We found a large hole in the outer wall which was used by the then Commanding Officer to enter the fort and take the surrender from the occupants who were Italians. This hole was blown by the Royal Engineers! We also found trenches with old boots and barbed wire. Note: the then Colonel of our regiment was his son!
We were now on the last leg of our journey which was to a barren spot in the desert at Beda Fomm. It’s location surrounds the only road that leads out of Benghazi to Tripoli. It was here that hundreds, yes hundreds, of Italian troops , along with their comfort girls, were caught retreating from the Allies who were advancing along the coast from Tobruk. Large convoys were seen coming down the road and after a few shots were fired the whole lot surrendered.
Our year was now up and we moved back to Homs after handing over to Badger Squadron. Once we settled into the billets we started training as a Regiment. The village of Homs had not changed except that a new hotel had been built. This is where I was introduced to the French Bidet. After many drinks with the lads one Saturday night we decided to try out this new piece of French wizardry. We were caught by the management lying on our backs with our bare feet in the bowl. How were we to know that it was designed to wash your privates! We also used a local village bar where we would get the local kids trying to swap Roman coins for our cigarettes. These coins came from Roman ruins ( Leptis Magna ) that was located just down the road. We never bothered to do the swap and I often wonder how much the coins would be worth today.
One of our own bars was on the beach and I remember one night one of the married lads saying that he was going to commit suicide as his wife was being unfaithful. As we were all under the influence of drink we took no notice. Sometime later a very wet and bedraggled chap came up to bar. This was the chap who was going to commit suicide by drowning in the sea but couldn’t do it. He carried on drinking with us although he was soaking wet! On Sundays we would race around the regimental square in go-carts. During the Easter weekend in ‘61 I won the regimental Easter
trophy. For the last year of our three we had to hand back the camp to the Libyan Army and move up to Benghazi to Wavell barracks. I was only there six months and then had to take my troop to Mednine barracks in Tripoli. We did the journey of 800 miles by road. We were in the same
barracks as the Royal Scots, an infantry regiment. Six months later we were on the move again. Back to Omagh, Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland was a complete contrast to the sun and desert. Rain, cold and more rain! The barracks were wooden huts but during our two years there they were pulled down and brick one’s built to replace them. I wasn’t there long as I was posted to the Junior Leaders Regiment at Bovington as one of the permanent staff gunnery instructors. I really didn’t enjoy my year there. It was during that time that Maureen (my future wife ) and I decided to marry. We had met when I had arrived back from Libya. We met at the Locarno dance hall in Coventry. I always remember spotting her on the other side of the dance floor wearing a black dress with tassels. When she saw the tan and found out that I had a car she was hooked!
The Beginning of 45 Years of Married Life.
We were married in August ( I still have problems remembering the date, August ? ) 1963 in Coventry. It was a small affair as we didn’t have much money. Our honeymoon was a week at Perranporth, Devon. The tyres on the car were worn thin and during our week we had a puncture. I think this just about cleaned us out, having to pay for repairs, but we made it home after a great week.
I then reported for work in Omagh leaving Maureen still living at home with her Mum. To get a married quarter you hade to accumulate points. These were worked out from your rank, children and time in the Army. We were half way down the list so we went into private accommodation which was a small caravan on a site opposite the camp.
It was winter time and the pipes leading from the water stop cock to our caravan froze solid. At night the condensation used to run down the walls and Maureen had to dry out the blankets during the day. All we had was a small coal fire. Talk about a baptism of fire! At Christmas a knock at the door revealed a little old Irishman who convinced us that we should buy the chicken that he was selling. Not knowing any better we did, but it must have been the oldest chicken in Ireland. We cooked it in our small one ring baby bell cooker but threw it away as it didn’t smell to good and bought another one. It was in this caravan that we conceived our first child Tracy Jane.
Before Tracy was born we moved into a bungalow ( Army hiring ) on the Londonderry Road, just outside the town. This couldn’t of come at a better time. Open fire and central heating. Peat was the fuel of the day. Tracy was born in Aug ‘64 and just two weeks later we had to move back to England. Perham Down near Tidworth, Hampshire. Our first married quarter was a Coronation street type of house which I am sure had been built before World War 1. You couldn’t swing a cat around inside. It had a small backyard with a coal bunker and a communal path between the yard and the back garden. We had only been there a few months and then I had to leave Maureen on her own with our very young daughter as Ajax Squadron was posted to Cyprus with the United Nations in a peace keeping roll.
Our six months were spent in a small, old camp near a village called Zyggi. From here we had to go out on patrol in our armoured cars. The patrolling area was up into the Troodos mountains and west of Limmasol. Our job was to ensure that the Greek and Turkish population behaved themselves. Six months earlier to our arrival they had decided that they didn’t want to live side by side and had started to kill each other. They eventually, much later, separated with all the Turks moving to the north of the island and having an imaginary boundary line drawn across the island from west to east. The northern part being governed by Turkey and the south by the Greeks.
No one ever fired at us and I only had one incident which took me by surprise. I was duty Troop Sergeant on guard one night and we had to go to the Turkish village overlooking the main Limmasol, Nicosia road. This village also overlooked our camp and the Turkish lads played football against us. Anyway, off I went to investigate the report that they were taking pot shots at the Greek taxi’s as they drove along this road. I arrived at the village barrier to be met by a teenager with a rifle. When I told him that I wanted to see the headman of the village he sat on the back of my armoured car with his rifle pointing at me and took me into the village. Everything was sorted out and I returned to camp. The following weekend the lads came down from the village for our weekly football game and who should be one of the players, none other than rifle boy! Yes, they did carry him off the pitch during the game.
Another problem was the Limmasol Greek Police Sergeant who insisted that he should follow our troop up a narrow hillside road to a Turkish village. Conveniently, the armoured car that he was following ( last one in the convoy ) broke down and for some reason couldn’t be started until the rest of us had drunk our coffee in the local’s coffee shop, and came back down the road . The contrast in temperature that we experienced was how warm it was where we lived ( 5mins walk to the beach ) and three hours later in the Troodos mountains, snow! Our six months ended in May ’65 and we moved back to England, to start converting to tanks before going to Germany.
Hohne, in North Germany was our new regimental home and would be for the next five years. The family moved into MB65 which was a flat on the first floor. This was in a block next to the central boiler house which at that time burnt coal and supplied the central heating and hot water for the whole camp. In ’67 our son Gary John was borne in Hannover hospital. I was on an exercise and Maureen went into labour and had to travel for over an hour with the driver hoping to get to the hospital before he was born. When I arrived at the hospital I could hear this yelling not knowing that it was Maureen giving birth. When I first saw Gary he looked like Winston Churchill!
For a while after, when we were back at the flat, on and off he wasn’t very well and used to suffer from chest problems (bronchitis). We thought the fall out from the boiler house chimney was the cause of this but we couldn’t get a move. We then got a posting to the recruiting office in Finchley, North London. We had a maisonette at Mill Hill. Only did a year of the two year posting as I had to go back to the regiment on promotion to Staff Sergeant.
Arriving back at Hohne I became the Troop Leader of one of the troops in Cyclops Squadron. During this last year in Germany we handed over our Centurion tanks and received the new Chieftains that were being issued to the Royal Armoured Corps. This had a multi fuelled engine with a bigger 120mm gun. Not a big automotive success as it was always breaking down. This time we were living in a flat in the little town of Bergen, some three miles from the camp. Next move (1970) was to Bovington and Lulworth.
When we arrived the quarter we were given was another one similar to the one we had in Periham Down so we refused it but we had to live in it for six weeks. The one we eventually moved into was a modern house with a garage and back garden. Didn’t have any central heating only a fireplace. This took a lot of getting used to after the central heating of German flats. During the second Winter we had a chimney fire which was a bit hairy but one of our neighbours put it out by putting salt on it. The fire service cooled down the chimney with water and then cleaned up the mess.
My new job was the Manager of the Officers Mess. This was an International Mess as students from other world armies stayed there during their courses at the gunnery school. The cleaners were elderly civilian ladies who were always bickering. At one stage I was told by the President of the Mess to convey to them that if they didn’t toe the line they would be sacked. Of course not knowing any better, I did so, and the next thing, they went on strike. I had the Union Rep come from Southampton and was told that I couldn’t treat civilians like that. Storm in a tea cup!
Two years of this and then the regiment was off to Munster in Germany. We stayed at Lulworth for another couple of years as I became one of the Instructors at the school. In total we lived there for four years and then I joined the regiment on promotion to Warrant Officer2. I took over the job of Squadron Sergeant Major of Badger Squadron.
Swinton barracks, Munster was certainly a lot better than Hohne. We had a nice house and a large city a few miles down the road. I enjoyed my time as Sergeant Major and the squadron had a lot of nice lads who didn’t cause me any major problems. During my three years we trained twice in Canada which was a nice break from the German training areas. We had an area near a place called Medicine Hat, and was half the size of Wales. The type of training that we carried out was as near to battlefield conditions as one could get, with live ammunition being used but no one firing back at us. The period of training was for six weeks and then four days rest and recuperation. During this time I visited a bit of the USA state of Montana, and also travelled through some of the Rockies. ( mountain range ).
The family took the opportunity to drive down from Munster to Italy on two occasions, for our holidays. It was a long drive, taking us about two days each way. The second of our trips we decided to travel back through Austria and it was there in Berchesgarten that Gary was taken ill with an appendicitis. He had his operation in a German Catholic hospital and five days later was on his way home with me as Maureen, Tracy and our friends had returned home earlier. The only complaint that he had during his stay in the hospital was the German tea! When Gary and I got home Maureen told me that she had had a pleasant surprise on arriving home from the holiday as we had won 1000 German Marks in a raffle that I had entered in our bank before we had left for our holiday. We also took advantage of the Regimental Ski Hut in southern Germany. We used the flat for families and spent two weeks on the ski slopes.
I also found out that I was to spend the last two years of my Army career in Bovington as the gunnery author. I would be writing the training books for the Royal Armoured Corps. These books would standardise the trade training and testing of troop officers, tank commanders and tank gunners. Whilst on my three month course Maureen took the family for another ski holiday but during the two weeks Gary came a cropper and broke one of his legs.
To conclude, I joined the ranks of the civilian population on the 8th May 1979 after 25 years in the Army and became the Contracts Manager for Marley Roofing & Tiling In Poole, Dorset.
Except for civie street I would do it all over again. All that comradeship I miss, but there is one consolation, I still have friends from those days and that is the reason I go to reunions and keep in touch through this website.
Fear Naught (RTR motto)
John 'Charlie' Welchman
Some 3 years into civilian life I had a request from an old friend who asked me if I would like to work for an Italian arms company in Saudi Arabia. There were 5 Brits who taught the Saudi army how to use guided missiles mounted on a track vehicle. This was an eye opener as we had to adjust to both the Saudi and Italian culture and the way they worked. I managed to last two and a half years before I decided that was enough.
My next job was working for Dorset County Council as a training officer on youth training. When the goverment decided to end that scheme and move onto Appreticeships I did the same and worked at Bournemouth and Poole College for a further eighteen and a half years and then retired to the golf course.
One day in 2014 my phone rang and on answering it there seemed to be a time lag for the other party to speak. Thought it was a spam call and I was just going to put it down when I heard a womens voice asking me if I was John Welchman? On hearing my answer she said I was her Uncle.
Further conversation disclosed the reason for this. At the begining of this story I mentioned that my sister Hilda had stayed on in Pakistan and on passing away the family of six children and their step-mother had moved to Australia. Since then two of them had died and the remaing four were now living in Brisbain, Melbourne and Tasmania.
Ann, the third eldest had found me through one of Hilder's bridesmaid's who is living in Melbourne and a sprightly 91. Since this has come to light the three sisiters and brother have been to the UK to visit, and myself and Maureen plus my son Gary have just come back (2016) after an enjoyable visit to see everyone.
This reunion took place some sixty years later. All through the power of the internet!