Brothers and a Sister
I cannot recall my very earliest years, but I am sure I was never
lonely, because my brother, Gilbert, was born on the 22nd March, 1913.
He called himself 'Gilbert only', because he didn't have two names like
My mother, Mary Hill.
On 8th August, 1914, we had another brother, Henry, named after Dad,
but always called 'Harry', or just simply ‘H’.
The Great War broke out on 4th August, 1914, but I don't think it
affected us children very much as we were too young. However, in
September, 1916, I started at Bingley Street Infants School and became
aware of the war, because when the school bell sounded the alarm, we had
to file out in twos into the school playground -lie face down in the
gravel with our heads resting on our hands and not 1ook up. This drill
was so that we would know what to do if the Zeppelins came over. I
remember how distressed I was when Gilbert started school towards the
end of the war, because I felt certain he would lift his head during an
air raid and the Germans would see his little white face and we would
all be bombed and killed.
My Dad did not go into the Army. He was rejected on account of his poor
health. (This was the result of his working as a labourer on railroad
construction in Canada before I was born. He went to Canada with his
sister, Ciss, to visit their elder sister, Louie. Dad had the idea of
emigrating if the conditions were favourable. But they were not. When he
returned to England, disillusioned, he brought home a small, but very
heavy, section of railway track. This was used at home for many years to
press the cured ox tongue which Mom and Dad prepared and cooked.)
Dad did join the Territorial Army and attended weekly training sessions
at the Drill Hall in Newhampton Road. He sometimes had to be brought
home by the Major, having fainted during training because of his kidney
My dad, in his youth.
Left to right:
Dad, Granny Rendell, Uncle Jim Rendell, Auntie Louie Adams,
My brother, James Frederick, was born on 20th May, 1916. He was always
called Jim, except by our elderly deaf neighbour who insisted he was
My fourth brother, Cyril, (usually called 'Tid') was born on 15th
October, 1918. This was the year of the big flu epidemic and following
Cyril's birth, my mother became ill with the flu, which developed into
pneumonia. Mother's unmarried sister, Alice, came to look after her and
Dad, and I looked after the rest of us. Mom's eldest sister, Nellie,
took baby Cyril to her home to look after him. (Our Cyril was named
after Auntie Nellie's son, Cyril, who was killed in the trenches in
I was only seven when Cyril was born and when Mom's youngest sister,
Elsie, came to visit us, she found I was having to be a 'little mother',
so she and Uncle John took me to stay at their home in Ettingshall Road,
Bilston. Dad got a woman in to help him look after the boys and Auntie
Alice looked after my Mom.
I don't know how long I stayed with Auntie Elsie and Uncle John, but I
do remember walking with them along Wellington Road in Bilston when the
sirens, guns and hooters went off at 11-00am on 11th November, 1918. The
Armistice had been signed. The war was over.
My sister, Edith Margaret, (always called Margaret) was born on 23rd
January, 1920. Now I had four brothers and a little sister.