Monday, November 18, 2013

"The Grandfather I Never Knew" Part 3 1944-1947

As the war dragged on Idris continued his work as a munitions inspector for the Home Guard. Their daughter Wendy would often watch the barrage balloons rising into the air before she headed off to school. They called them "Elephants," perhaps in an effort to make some cheer of the situation.

Idris never evacuated his children. If they were told that a particular heavy air raid was coming then he would take them in the little side car of his motorbike up to Stoke on Trent. Here they would stay with the rest of the family.

David John,  Glyn and Idris Davies. Three brothers.

Idris loved his motorbike.  He rode a Matchless 500 and would often ride with his brother Glyn from Birmingham to Wales. One time there was a major fog in Gloucestershire and the brothers recall that Idris ended up with a policeman on his handlebars.

Victory in Europe was celebrated in Britain and the Commonwealth on the 7th May 1945. Celebrations occurred all over the country with young and old dancing in the street. Iris' younger sister Ruth was sick in bed and Idris kept checking inside to make sure that she was ok. 

With the long war over people could at last look forward. Idris bought a house in Sheldon, it was one of many that were being built at the time and one of the first on the street. Others were still being erected as they moved in. The house is still standing at 45 Shirley Road,  Sheldon, Birmingham.[1]

The winter of 1947 changed their plans. It was one of the worst on record. Idris' wife Iris struggled with Pernicious Anemia and nearly died. The Dr. informed them both that unless they moved to a more suitable climate she would probably die within the next five years. The options then, were Canada or Africa.

Idris' brother Glyn had been with Montgomery's expedition force. He had traveled with the Armored Car division, landing in Cape Town and traveling the length of Africa, passing through many British commonwealth countries on the way. He told Idris about Southern Rhodesia and its amiable climate. The decision was made final when Britain announced it was paying £10,000 to any citizens who moved to the colonies. The motherland would also cover the cost of the fare there.

So on 22 July 1947 Idris left England for Africa. He traveled aboard the Carnavon Castle, leaving from the port of Southampton. The records show his last English address as 318 Longton Road, Stoke on Trent[2]

Passenger List for the voyage from Southampton.

[1] Wendy knows that they lived at two houses during and just after WW2. One was a Shirley or Shiela Road in  Sheldon. The first was at Heather Road in Birmingham. The two numbers were 45 and 54 but she can never remember which number belonged to which street.

[2] This was the address of Harold and Annie Griffiths, Iris' parents. Ruth Griffiths remember them staying there when Idris left for Africa