Monday, 3 March 2014

52 Ancestors:# 5 ~ 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

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post, and applaud you for catching up! I have a good friend in North Carolina, USA who is a Butcher, I'm going to share this with her via facebook if I can and see if she knows her genealogy. Helen


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