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Family Heirloom: Grandad’s Button

11 May

Here is another part of my grandad’s Second World War army uniform, a jacket button from his time serving in the Royal Engineers.

The button is about an inch in diameter and appears to be made from brass. The maker’s name is on the back, FIRMIN LONDON.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Family Heirloom: Grandad’s Cap Badge

28 Apr

I have been showing you some mementos of my grandad’s army service during the Second World War. None of the earlier ones have really been obvious military items, but here is one heirloom that is undoubtedly military.

I don’t think there is much more explanation needed, the cap badge is made from plastic, presumably bakelite, for economy purposes. It has brass fittings on the back as well as the manufacturer’s name: A STANLEY & SONS, WALSALL.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Family Heirloom: Two Lumps of Rock

13 Apr

Continuing on from my previous family heirloom post, below is a photo of another family heirloom, or rather pair of family heirlooms. They are somewhat less practical that the shoe brush last time, in fact they serve no useful purpose other than to illustrate a part of my grandad’s army life.

The story (told to me by my father) goes that these two pieces of rock were pieces of the Rock of Gibraltar brought back from Gibraltar by my grandad who had been stationed out there whilst serving with the Royal Engineers during the Second World War.

Whilst I am pretty certain that he served in Gibraltar (and could confirm that with his service record), I have no way of knowing whether these are in fact bits of the Rock, unless I can find a geologist with some way of analysing them.

However I am quite happy to accept the story that these were souvenirs of his time spent in Gibraltar and have no reason to doubt it.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Family Heirloom: Grandad’s Shoe Brush

1 Apr

Some family heirlooms are more useful than others and this is definitely one of them. Some are meant to be put on display, but this one lives in the cupboard under the kitchen sink.

This is my grandad’s army issue shoe brush, used by him during has service with the Royal Engineers and used by me this morning to polish my shoes ready for work on Monday morning.

Although it is not particularly clear I know it was his brush because it has his service number (1879445) stamped on the top.

One side has the words “WARRANTED ALL HORSE-HAIR  1939″, which is presumably the year and on the other side are the words “BEECHWOOD LTD” which is probably the manufacturer and a War Department broad arrow.

I’m sure my grandad would be pleased to know it is still being used after all these years.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Treasures from the attic: My grandparent’s birthday book

21 Oct

To be honest I had forgotten I had this little treasure stored away in my parent’s attic until a few weeks ago. I guess when I was initially given it I wasn’t so passionate about family history, now I realise what a wonderful resource it is.

Birthday book

The book is tiny, about 1¾" x 2¼" and about ½" thick. It was published, if that is the right word, by Eyre and Spottiswoode (Bible Warehouse) Ltd., London, and is rather grandly entitled The Royal Bijou Birthday Book.

Each page is divided into two and each half is headed with a month and day (e.g. October 21), a bit like a diary but without the year. The left-hand page has quote for each day, "A Selection from the Poetical Works of SHAKSPEARE, WORDSWORTH, HOOD, TENNYSON, MOORE, BURNS, COWPER, SCOTT, GOLDSMITH, HEMANS, BYRON, MILTON".

The right-hand page is more like a diary, with a space for writing down the relevant birthdays for that day.

The entries are in two different hands, that of my grandmother (Dorothy Annie GASSON née TROWER), who presumably started the book, and after her death in 1964 it was continued by my grandfather (Charles Percy GASSON). I don’t know for certain whether the book was started before their marriage in 1936 or not, I suspect it was probably after their marriage and analysis of some of the entries might confirm this.

I need to go through this book, transcribe all the entries and identify all the names and their relationship to my grandparents. A lot of the names are known to me and the majority are still living (because they are my cousins, aunts and uncles) so I won’t be publishing the details. Some of the people were probably neighbours and friends.

There is one other interesting addition to the book which is a bit of a mystery. Slipped in towards the back of the book was the passport photo shown below. I have no idea whether it belongs in there or who he is, he doesn’t look like any of my relations, but I could be wrong, perhaps one of my relations will be able to put a name to the face.

Unidentified photo

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