Category Archives: England
Not many families have a big bird named after them.
Well, we do! It is a New Zealand Kiwi bird and it is carved into the chalk hills in Wiltshire, England. It has been there since 1919, so close to famous, ancient Stonehenge, yet virtually unknown.
During my genealogy searching online for family members, like many researchers, I ‘Googled’ my surname, Bulford, but I would always get sent to ‘Bulford Camp’ in Salisbury, Wiltshire, in the UK, which is a large Army camp that was established in 1897.
The Bulford Army Base is still in use today alongside Bulford Village and the Church. Many times, over the years, family members would go to Bulford to get our photos taken with the Village sign.
Bulford Village grew up on the gravels beside the river Avon. The meaning of Bulford is difficult but the most likely explanation is ‘the ford where the ragged robins grow’ or ‘ragged robin island’. Bulut is Saxon for ‘ragged robin’ and in the 12th century the name was Bultesford. ¹
The Bulford Kiwi is carved on Beacon Hill above the military village of Bulford on Salisbury Plain. Hill figures, or geoglyphs, ² are designed to be seen from afar rather than above and are a phenomenon especially seen in England. The letters “N.Z.” are 65 feet (20 m) high.
This one was carved after the First World War by the Kiwis (as the New Zealanders were called), eager to get back home. Apparently, no troop ships were immediately available and the troops had a few riots in protest, so officers decided that they should be kept busy by carving a Kiwi into the chalk hills!
In 1919, the Canterbury and Otago Engineer Battalions started their work. The design was drawn by Sergeant-Major Percy Cecil Blenkarne, a drawing instructor in the Education Staff, from a sketch of a stuffed kiwi specimen in the British Museum.
In real life, Kiwis are a nocturnal, flightless bird about the size of a chicken with long legs and beak. The kiwi’s muscular legs make up around a third of its total body weight and can outrun a man. The chalk Kiwi’s body covers 1.5 acres (6,100 m2).
The site was surveyed and the design put on to the site by Sergeant-Major V.T. Low of the education staff. From the Kiwi’s feet to the top of its back is 420 feet (130 m) and the beak is 150 feet (46 m) long.
In the years after the Kiwi’s creation, the Kiwi Polish Company – the very polish used to shine our forces’ issued marching boots – maintained the Kiwi through their offices in London, employing local villagers to do the work. Although it had “little if any advertising value [for the company]”, they explained their interest in its upkeep as its being a memorial to the New Zealand troops.³
Bulford parish itself is rectangular, extending eastwards from the banks of the river and the boundaries have remained unchanged for more than a thousand years. In the Middle Ages, there was a settlement called Hindurrington, to the north of Bulford church, that was also on the river gravels. The name may have originated because the settlement was at the back of Durrington, which was on the other side of the river.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_figure Info about the chalk figures in the UK 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulford_Kiwi shoe polish 
Hill figures are cut in the grass to reveal the chalk and include the Cerne Abbas Giant the Uffington White Horse, the Long Man of Wilmington as well as the ‘lost’ carvings at Cambridge, Oxford and Plymouth Hoe.
For further photos of the chalk Kiwi follow this link:
Dear Uncle Bill,
While rummaging through the Dusty Old Boxes containing family memorabilia, I came upon letters written by you to your only brother, my father, Tom. There were also letters written to your sweetheart during WWII while you were stationed in England serving with the RCAF. So I thought the best way to remember you would be in the form of a letter.
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lucy and I am one of your nieces.
Our paths never crossed. I was only born in 1957 and you died in 1943. Your brother had seven children. I was his fourth. His eldest son, born in 1949, was named after you – William Sherron Anglin II.
While staying with my family in England in 2016, I visited you in person at your last known address: Runnymede Memorial, Panel 179, Surrey, UK. My grandchildren, who always enjoy a challenge, accompanied me in my search to find you. It didn’t take them long to find your panel and you – or your name, that is – inscribed on one of several stone walls, along with 20,000 other airmen, at this dedicated memorial building on Cooper’s Hill overlooking the Thames River.
Your name was too high up for the children to touch but I brushed my fingers lovingly over your name and told you we were there. I am quite sure you knew it. You had an interest in mental telepathy, as did your grandfather, and his story was documented in the family boxes as well. (Surgeon and Mentalist)
Throughout your letters to Tom, along with childhood memories, you shared and referred to an interest in The Rosicrucian Order which “is a community of mystics who study and practice the metaphysical laws governing the universe”.
You maintained the belief in an ability to “project” yourself and to send mental messages. I can only guess that a feeling of closeness to your brother by any means must have consoled you greatly while away at war in England.
In your letters to your sweetheart, you described England in general (with the usual complaints about the rainy weather), your life with the RCAF, weekend leaves to Scotland and dances in the mess hall “wishing you were there”. Although I don’t have her letters in response, I am sure you took great comfort in hearing from her.
You were sent on a training course at the end of May 1943 and, while away, your crew went on a mission without you – never to return. In the last letter to your girl, you confided that you were feeling “depressed” at their loss. On the very next mission, you went missing as well.
Not long afterwards, your sweetheart sent a bundle of your cherished letters, wrapped in a bow, to your mother and wrote “I know I want to forget as soon as I am able, everything – and so I am sending you the few letters I had saved from those Bill sent me from England. I hope that you would rather have them, than not … perhaps they will make you glad to have something more – to know something else of Bill’s life in England … rather than rake up memories you are trying to forget. For while I want to forget, I feel so sure that you will want to remember.”
Your mother never gave up hope that you would return one day.
Bill, Wendling (the stock broker), Josephine, Tom and family dog (1940).
The abundant number of photos found with the letters in these boxes show your 27 years filled with family times – gatherings, annual trips, formal portraits, a few pets and a full life.
You will not be forgotten.
Your niece Lucy
William Sherron Anglin was an Air/Gunner and Warrants Officer II with the 429 Squadron flying in a Wellington X bomber, Serial no. HZ471.
Reason for Loss:
Took off from R.A.F. East Moor, North Yorkshire at 22.36 hrs joining 719 aircraft attacking the town of Wuppertal, the home of the Goldchmitt firm which produced Tego-Film, a wood adhesive used in the production of the HE162 and TA154 (aircraft). Around 1000 acres was destroyed in the firestorm that followed – 211 industrial buildings and nearly 4,000 houses were totally destroyed. A figure of 3,400 fatalities on the ground has been recorded. Bomber command did not escape lightly on this operation losing some 36 aircraft.
It is thought “probable” that HZ471 was shot down by Lt. Rolf Bussmann, flying out of Venlo airfield, and attacking this Wellington at 3,700 meters with the aircraft falling into the sea off Vlissingen.
By Sandra McHugh
When I say that my grandfather, Thomas McHugh, worked as a cipher, Bletchley Park, MI5, and Russian spies immediately come to mind. He was neither a Russian spy nor did he work as a cipher during the war. His employer was the Bank of Montreal and it was his first job when he came to Canada in 1912.
The decision to immigrate to Canada was not easy for Thomas. He was in his mid-30s and already had seven children, between the ages of one and fifteen. For over 40 years, the jute manufacturers of Dundee, Scotland had been providing employment for his parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, wife, and for him. However, by the early 1900s, he was facing a precarious future for his children.
By the early 1900s, Dundee had suffered a serious decline in the textile industry and more significantly, the jute industry. Jute was imported from India, however, the mill owners realized that it would significantly lower the cost of production to open mills in India to prepare the jute and import the finished product to Scotland. Once mills were established in India, the jute production in the mills in Dundee decreased substantially.1
So when Thomas arrived in Canada, a little ahead of his wife and his children, he was eager and prepared to do any job so that he could. The Bank of Montreal had its headquarters in Montreal, Quebec. In the early 1900s, the bank had significant dealings with Great Britain and there were correspondence and banking instructions back and forth between Canada and Great Britain daily. These instructions were mainly sent by telegraph overnight. There were two reasons for this. Some of these instructions were confidential and it was preferred that they remain so. Overnight instructions reduced the number of people who would have access to them. Another reason was the time difference between Montreal and the United Kingdom. The banks in London and Edinburgh were open for business while Montreal was still asleep.
Even in those days, the banks were concerned about security, privacy, and confidentiality. The banking instructions and transactions were submitted by telegraph and were encrypted. It was the job of the cipher clerk to decipher them so that the bank staff could then ensure that the instructions were carried out as required.
To be a cipher clerk, one had to be reliable, meticulous, and honest, and ensure the confidentiality of the bank’s business. The cipher clerk used a cipher handbook to decipher the information. Also, the cipher clerk worked overnight, so it was a difficult job for a man with a family.
So while my grandfather, the cipher, did not work in espionage, I still think that his first job in Canada was rather interesting.2
2 As related by my father, Edward McHugh
The Air Canada plane starts its descent and I look down out of the window. It is a dark November afternoon and I can see nothing except a few pinpricks of light on the ground. After regularly flying around densely populated Europe, this is a shock. Where are the towns? The people? What have we come to?
It is November 17, 1978 and here we are with our two boys, seven and five, landing at Mirabel Airport near Montréal, Quebec, where my husband, John, will start a new job.
We stand in a long line and wait. First there is an interview with a customs official who tells us that we can collect our boxes of “chattels and household effects” in a few days. Then on to the Immigration Officer who asks us about Geneva, where we had been living, and England, where we were born, and then examines our papers. We then talk to a pleasant lady who gives us information on schools and local businesses, and a telephone number to apply for our SIN cards (our what?). Finally, we can collect our luggage and leave. We have been admitted to Canada!
John sets off to find our car hire and when he returns driving a huge Plymouth Volare, the kids are thrilled. Cars of this size are not often seen in Europe. As we start to drive, it seems very dark; there are few lights on the motorway – or highway – as we soon learn to call it.
Our youngest child, Owen, awake since we left Geneva, finally falls asleep in the back seat as we head downtown to our temporary home, an efficiency apartment in a downtown hotel.
The next morning when we switch on the TV, we are confronted with the horrifying story of the Jonestown Massacre¹ a religious cult leader has killed all his followers with poisoned punch. The story is revealed in great detail, and we find the television coverage quite different from the French, Italian and German media we were used to (and could hardly understand) in Switzerland. We feel quite naive.
Finally, we venture outside for breakfast, choosing Ben’s, right across the street from the hotel. The boys are thrilled to see two policeman at the counter, their backs to us, wearing guns.
In that high, carrying voice of the very young, Owen pipes up, ‘Are they real guns Mummy?’ He has never seen a policeman with a gun before. The policemen smile and wave at the children, but we feel nervous after the shocking TV news, and now policemen wearing guns?
Breakfast was, how shall I say it? Different. Bacon with pancakes and maple syrup? We give it a try. It’s not bad, but it’s a strange taste for us. Coffee is served without asking if we want it; we prefer tea. And the food portions are enormous. We stagger out, well fed.
Soon it starts to snow and the children are delighted, but by late afternoon, when it is still snowing, we are staggered. When does it stop? (FYI, in late April the following year.) We tell the hotel concierge we are going to take a walk. He eyes us and says, ‘You will need boots and winter coats. Try Eaton’s, just a block down there.’ We venture out and cannot believe how deep the snow is. I tiptoe down the street in my high heels, feet freezing.
In England, we have just one heavy coat, shoes and one pair of boots for all the seasons. In Switzerland, we only use boots for skiing, so all this new clothing is strange. We buy hats, scarves and warm gloves too, and we soon appreciate how important it is to be warmly dressed in winter!
Eventually, we move into our house and the time comes to register the boys for school. We decide to send them to a French school since they studied in French in Geneva. The elementary school principal is amazed, as we are obviously English, but in our fractured French, we insist.
Owen, who will be six years old in February of the coming year, is outraged that he is deemed ‘too young’ to start school full time. He can only attend half a day until the following September. He has been in school since he was three!
I had never learned to drive, and now I had to learn quickly if I wanted to go anywhere. So, in February, 1979, I took my first driving lesson on the frozen streets of the West Island. Slipping and sliding down the streets I go, with the sweat running down my back! I am very, very nervous. I do not even know how to work the wipers, plus, my youngest son is in the back seat – no safety belts then – since I don’t know anyone who could babysit while I have my lesson. Stress after stress for the first few years. Typical of most immigrants, I should think.
The politics too were a bit of a surprise, as it seemed everyone was fleeing down the 401 to Toronto. A few days of reading the newspapers told us why. Apparently a law called “Bill 101”² had been passed the previous August and the ‘Anglos,’ as we soon learned to call ourselves, were leaving Quebec. It appeared we had arrived in a province in turmoil.
The noises in our house were also unfamiliar. At first when we heard the furnace starting up in the basement, we were all startled, but we quickly got used to it. Another puzzler was having to buy a brush for the car and a shovel for the driveway. Why? We soon found out that if we did not copy our neighbours and clean the car of snow and shovel the drive, we simply couldn’t get out!
One night, we heard the city snow blower and trucks clearing the snow very late at night, and we all leapt out of bed to check what the noise was. It was scary; all small things, but so different from living in England and Europe.
We experienced many ups and downs as we got used to life here. Perhaps the hardest thing was to adapt to the extreme cold winter weather, and then to the hot, humid summers (yet again, we needed to buy more appropriate clothing), but despite all that, we like it here. Almost 40 years later, our sons are fully bilingual and attended college and university. I have to say that Quebec has been very good to our family as we continue to build our own little dynasty, in this place we now call ‘home.’
² https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_of_the_French_LanguageThe Charter of the French Language (French: La charte de la langue française), also known as Bill 101 (Law 101 or French: Loi 101), is a law in the province of Quebec in Canada defining French, the language of the majority of the population, as the official language of Quebec.
Reverend John Forster. Published with the permission of the Primitive Methodist Ancestor Website.
Late in his life, Somebody Forster, my great-grandfather, awakened from his night’s sleep to ask his wife of many decades, ‘Woman, what are you doing in my bed?” It was dementia.
Until lately, this serio-comic anecdote was the only thing I knew about my father’s mother’s father, other than that he was a Methodist Minister from the North of England. But, just last month, I accessed the 1901 UK Census, (for free, yea) and it took me about thirty minutes to find out all I could want about my great-grandfather Somebody.
First, I looked up my grandmother, Dorothy Forster, who I knew was born in 1895 in Middleton-on -Teesdale, County Durham, UK, to see that her father was a Reverend John from Knockburn, Northumberland; her mother Emma, a former Cowen from Crook, and, more importantly, that John was a Primitive Methodist Minister. (I checked. PM’s were dissenters; socialists and pacifists, apparently.) *1
Then, googling the keywords “John Forster” and “Primitive Methodist,” I landed on a webpage from a genealogy site, myprimitivemethodistancestors.org , with a short biography of Great-granddad John, with grainy photos of him and wife Emma taken in 1914. 2
Apparently, John Forster, a bookish, self-educated son of a farmer, was an accomplished essayist who penned over fifty articles for the Connexions Magazine of the Primitive Methodists on sundry weighty topics including “Heredity in Relation to Morals” and “Primitive Methodism and the Labour Question.”(He also served as a Temperance Committee; amusing, as his daughter, my Grandma Dorothy*, could really slug back the gin!)
I was most intrigued, though, to see that John had published a book of poetry, in 1923, shortly after my father, his grandson, was born at the European Hospital near Kuala Lumpur, Malaya. The author claims that Reverend John’s poems ‘contain lyrics of extraordinary charm and grace.’
(Well, I know the Wasteland was published in 1922, ushering in modernity, it is claimed, but no one said anything as nice about T.S. Eliot’s poem 😉
Curious, of course, about these verses, I contacted the Primitive Methodism Website’s administrator, asking for help. She immediately emailed me back a longer biographical article about John Forster, but no examples of his poems. The volume in question, Pictures of Life in Verse seems to have gone missing from the church/museum library.
There’s good news, though. This longer article lists Reverend John’s assignments or ‘circuits’ in chronological order. The Forster family moved often, it seems, around the area: Thornley, Crook, Middleham, Bradford, Middleton-in-Teesdale, (a very pretty sheepy village) about six other towns, then, it said, “his present one (1912) being Helmsley.”
Bingo! I know from the 1911 UK Census, that Helmsley is the hometown of my grandfather, Robert Nixon. Clearly, alliances were made in that era that resulted in the marriage of John and Emma’s second daughter, Dorothy, to Robert Nixon, son of a delver in the local Rievaulx quarry, although a Great War would delay official matrimony.
Dorothy would have been 17 in 1912 and fresh out of her co-ed Quaker boarding school and Robert Nixon just 22, and working in service as a footman.3
Perhaps Robert’s prospects weren’t good enough for the righteous Reverend John. In 1913, according to online records,4 Robert, travelled to Malaya to work as a labourer in a rubber plantation. During WWI, Dorothy worked as a land girl, leading enormous Clydesdales through the woods, a comical sight as she was only 5 foot tall.*5
The same records also reveal that Robert returned to England in 1916, now the plantation’s Assistant Manager. This trip home was very likely to secure a wife for real as rubber company officials insisted their employees return to the UK to find respectable British (see: white) wives.
Whatever transpired back in Helmsley, North Yorkshire in 1916, on December, 1921, *6 Reverend John Forster, perhaps taking time off from penning one of his charming verses, sent his second daughter, Dorothy off to Selangor, Malaya. She’d become pregnant almost immediately upon arrival. I know because my father, Peter, was born on October 23, 1922.7
Checking into Emma Cowan’s parentage, I see that her ancestors belonged to this same church, Redwing Chapel, that has an online presence! United Congregation of Red Wing Chapel, Garrigill, and Low Chapel, Alston, Cumberland; http://www.fivenine.co.uk/family_history_notebook/source_extracts/parish_registers/cumberland/redwing_registers.htm
- Website: Myprimitivemethodistancestors.org
- UK Census 1911
- UK Immigration and Transportation Records http://www.familysearch.org
- Family Lore
- UK Immigration and Transportation Records. After WWI, there were many, many more unmarried women than men in England, so perhaps this had something to do with Dorothy’s decision to go to Malaya to marry Robert Nixon. They did not get married in the UK, or at least I can’t find any record of a marriage.
- Family lore, (my Aunt Denise, who died last month) said that Robert kept his Asian mistress after marriage. Dorothy eventually got her own boyfriend, a colonial lawyer who remained faithful to her until her death in 1971. Both Dorothy and Robert were interned at Changi Prison in Singapore during WWI. Dorothy was Women’s Camp Commandant for a term. I only met my grandmother once in 1967, when she came to visit. Robert died while she was at our house in Montreal’s Snowdon district. He fell off a ladder at his daughter’s, Denise, in Farnborough, Hants, UK. I recall the telegram. I recall, also, that my grandmother managed to wipe a tear or two from her eyes. I’ve written about my Colonial Grandmother in a play Looking for Mrs. Peel, which makes it all the more amusing that my great-grandparents were named John and Emma.