The intentions to document this information are long standing in that they go back some two decades to the early/mid 1990’s, just a few years before the subject of this site, James Kitchener Heath passed away.

As is the case in so many families in which a generation experienced war and all its traumas, certain aspects of service are known, but all too often the details are sketchy and disjointed. Add into this mix the passage of time and the result is invariably a collection of stories and fragments of memories accompanied by a handful of fragile and faded documents (if you are lucky) that represent the sum of information relating to the most extraordinary period in a soldier’s life. This was certainly the case in our family..... and it’s not much to go on.

In February 1995, my Father and I struggled to put together a potted service history to be read by the cleric presiding over my Grandfather’s funeral. At this point I decided to take steps to fill in some of the gaps as best I could.... sadly now without the benefit of first hand testimony.

A well known turn of phrase, ‘written on the back of a fag packet’ is defined by the Collins on-Line dictionary as something ‘composed or formed quickly and without detailed analysis or research’. As far as first hand source material for this history is concerned, no better a description could be made. The details gleaned from my Grandfather in brief (and often emotional) discussions in the 1990’s are summarised as a list of place names written in an old man’s shaky handwriting on the back of a standard envelope! (this will feature later). On the upside, a standard envelope is approximately twice the size of a cigarette packet, which immediately doubles the amount of information to work with!

By my own admission, this site is a little self-indulgent, being of primary interest to myself, my mother, my children and a handful of relatives still living in Staffordshire. In addition, it may be that the information presented here will be read by others outside of the family who have a passing interest in military or family history.

I would welcome any comments/suggestions or dare I say it relevant information to contact me.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Platoon Photograph - 5th South Staffordshire Regiment Newcastle-Under-Lyme Christmas 1941

Here is a photo of my Grandfather's platoon of 'A' Company of the 5th South Staffordshire Regiment. A hand written note on the reverse indicates that the photograph was taken in Newcastle-Under-Lyme at Christmas 1941.

My Grandfather is pictured sixth from the right in the middle row. Interestingly, the photograph also identifies the only other name of the 5th Staffords known to the family. My Grandfather was remembered making reference in his lifetime to a friend and fellow soldier in his Company who went by the nickname of  'Fump'. His name was George Blount and he is pictured in the middle row, second from the left. In a note, again on the reverse of the photograph, in my Grandfather's careful hand, is George's location in the shot and 'Whit Marines Wolverhampton'. I believe 'Whit Marines' is a misspelling and mishearing of Whitmore Reans an area of Wolverampton, a city that at the time was in Staffordshire, prior to forming part of the metropolitan county of the West Midlands from 1974. I presume Whitmore Reans was where George Blount resided before enlisting.

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