My father Ray was the second of three brothers. He’s the one with the cricket bat in his hand. The youngster in the middle is Tony, and the one on the left with his arm draped over Tony’s shoulders is big brother Ken. I would guess that the picture was taken just before the Second World War.
Ken joined the RAF when war was declared and trained as a pilot. He was barely in his 20s when his Beaufighter was destroyed on a reconnaissance mission over the Friesian Islands. My father followed him into the RAF and had just completed his training as a Lancaster pilot when the war ended. He had the flying bug and stayed in the RAF until he was killed in a plane crash in 1953 at the age of 28. After his National Service in the Royal Navy, Uncle Tony followed in their father’s footsteps and worked for British Rail.
The three brothers each had one son. Ken’s wife Eve discovered she was pregnant with Ian just after Ken was killed. Ray married Vera in 1948 and I was born a year later. A few years after that, Tony and his wife Jean had Jonathan. Growing up, I knew Jonathan but Eve moved away to make a new life and I rarely, if ever, saw Ian.
We (Ian, Geoff, and Jonathan) got on with our separate lives and had no occasion to get together, until very recently when we met at Jean’s funeral. Halfway through the wake, it occurred to me to get someone to take a photograph of us some 70 years after the snap of our fathers was taken.
And here we are: Ian is on the left; I’m in the middle; Jonathan is on the right. If you were to meet us individually, I’m not sure you’d realise that we were cousins. But stick us in a line and I think you can see a certain family resemblance.
Afterwards, we persuaded the “guvnor” to join us for a second photograph. That’s Jonathan’s dad Tony, second from the left. Since my mum died, Tony is the only direct link I have to my father. He’s a lovely man and full of stories. I’m going to call him right now to see how he is getting on and arrange to go and see him again soon.