Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Grandma I never Knew. Part 3 1944 - 1948

[I wish to say another special thanks to my Aunt and Uncle; Glyn and Wendy, this blog would not be possible without their input.]

When Iris married Idris she was aware that Idris believed he was called by God to Africa. It was not long after the ending of World War 2 that those plans became more concrete and the two of them would decide to move their small family across two continents to the country of Southern Rhodesia. [Now called Zimbabwe. (2)] Idris would move out there in advance of the rest of the family. This would allow a house to be bought and give a place for Iris and their children to move to.

Here is a photograph taken shortly before Idris departed for Africa in 1937. From left to right they are: Glyn [Idris' brother], Grethe, Price Davies, Annie Davies, Iris Davies, Idris Davies, with Wendy and Glyn [Idris son] at the front.

This was taken in Birmingham. The family are standing in the allotment (1) with the Anderson Shelter just out of sight!

In the mean time Iris, Glyndwr and Wendy moved in with Harold E Griffiths and his wife Annie. The two Grandparents lived near a highway and were quite strict with the children in telling them not to go outside and near the road system!

Iris continued to work at the Woolworths department store as a lift operator. [Elevator operator.] On occasion Iris would invite the children and her Grandpa to come and visit, showing them the controls and how everything worked. By January 1938 the time had arrived for Iris and the others to join Idris.

They set off from Birmingham via train. Iris eldest daughter, Wendy, didn't much care for trains but it was the quickest way to reach Southampton where the boat would leave. Harold joined them, no doubt wanting to make sure that his daughter and grandchildren made it safe and sound to Southampton. Wendy recalls that he stood and waved to them as the boat departed. There was also alot of excitement as they would be passing through London and the whole family wanted to see the capital!

The boat ride itself was a journey of 3-4 weeks. They sailed straight from Southampton, through the Bay of Biscay on the west coast of France, and on to Cape Town in South Africa. As they boarded the boat Glyndwr was terrified. There were gaps between each step of the gangplank and he could see down into the water between them. Finally a steward came and carried him across. The boat was large, as it would have to be, and even in 1948 it contained a swimming pool. Wendy would often be in the swimming pool though Iris remained in the lower decks for most of the trip for she was sea sick.
Sometimes they would have a crew member come to visit, either to bring food or to make sure they were okay. At these times Wendy recalls that Iris would pull herself together enough to say thank you and be appreciative before retiring for the rest of the day. Wendy discovered that being below decks caused an adjustment to the ear pressure and made the sea sickness worse. Poor Iris may have been better off staying above decks.

There was one other thing of importance that occurred on the journey. Glyndwr celebrated his 4th Birthday. What a way to celebrate!

When they finally arrived in Cape Town another train journey awaited them. This time they would travel from Cape Town to Southern Rhodesia. This would take a number of days and be very tiring for Iris and the family who were already worn out from the four week boat journey. It was all worth it though when Idris pulled up to greet them in a 1938 Ford V8 with red spoked wheels. One can imagine the look on Iris' face at being reunited with her husband after so long apart.

Wendy "Felt like a Queen" and Glyn was constantly telling his father to "Speeder faster, speeder faster." It was the first car the family ever owned and Iris must have beamed with pride. It was a nice way to say, "Welcome to Africa."

[1] An Allotment was a piece of land granted by the British Government during WW2. Some allotment sizes were larger than others. It was part of the "Digging for Victory" effort. During World War 2 German U boats cut off alot of the food supply that Britain would traditionally import from the Empire to feed its citizens. Here is a link to a video that helped promote the use of allotments in Britain during


[2] Southern Rhodesia has had many names. As a colony of the British Empire it was Southern Rhodesia, but briefly "The Republic of Rhodesia" between 1970-1980 before finally being recognized as its own independent state by the British Government in 1980.

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