Happy Monday one and all! It's that time again...!
Some of you will already know that, after the success of reuniting a family with their mother's World War 2 air raid identity bracelet a month or so ago, I was sent another bracelet by someone who had read about my last search. They asked if I could help reunite this bracelet with its family. So, of course, I agreed.
This week's blog post is dedicated to my search for the family of Grace Wilson and how, through the power of sharing and caring, we managed to track down Grace's closest living relatives and return the bracelet to where it belongs.
So, as always, get yoursel' a brew and settle in for this week's story...
Image: Grace's WW2 Air Raid Identity Bracelet
Identity bracelets like this one were worn by children during WW2 and were designed to help reunite children with their families if they were separated, injured or worse, during an air raid. This bracelet, like the one I'd had previously, was engraved with the name of the child and their address. In this case, it belonged to a Grace Wilson of Rock House, Silkstone Common.
I began doing some digging on ancestry sites and contacted Claire Davis, who had helped find the family for the last bracelet, to ask if she could assist me. Claire agreed and began doing some searches of her own.
Image: Grace's WW2 Air Raid Identity Bracelet
Meanwhile, I made contact with the local press in the Silkstone area in the hope that they might put something out to their readers. Fortunately, I was contacted by 'Yorkshire Live' who agreed to feature the story.
Image: Grace's WW2 Air Raid Identity Bracelet
This bracelet was slightly different to the one I'd previously had. This had a series of letters and numbers engraved to the bottom of it and I had had no idea what these were for. I assumed they might have been linked to the child's blood group...?
However, upon seeing a photo of the bracelet, Claire linked the letters to the 1939 register, which led her to find an entry which she suspected was Grace. However, the address was different to that on the bracelet and as such, Claire wanted to do some more digging to be sure. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be the Grace we were looking for.
Image: Yorkshire Live Feature
Nevertheless, 'Yorkshire Live' very kindly published their article and within minutes, I began receiving emails from people with pieces of information. In fact, one reader had gone that one step further and informed me that she had managed to locate one of Grace's living relatives. I received an email confirming that she was able to provide me with details of Grace's Husband's (Sydney) Sister, Hilda's, only son. So, Grace's Nephew on her Husband's side.
I exchanged emails with her, however, having learnt that Grace had a Sister, I felt that, although a Nephew on her Husband's side was part of her extended family, I was determined to find a living relative on Grace's side and her Sister Margaret was key to this. So, my search continued.
Image: Barnsley Chronicle Story
But then, out of the blue, I was contacted by the 'Barnsley Chronicle', whom advised me they had featured my story in their newspaper dated 27th November (pictured above) and had received a call from a relative of Grace. She said that she was part of her extended family, and that her direct relatives lived in the Retford area. Unfortunately, they gave me no further details.
Image: 1939 Census Register
Nevertheless, I began receiving further emails from people providing me with snippets of information, which all helped narrow my search.
With the help of everyone that had contacted me, I had managed to gather the following information...
Grace was born on 1st July 1929. In 1951 she married Sydney Wood (1924-2017) but they had no children.
The only sibling Grace had has proved difficult to find. Her name was Margaret and she was 3 years older than Grace. Apart from Margaret, Grace seemed to have a lack of living traceable relatives.
It was believed that Margaret married in 1949 (registered in the same area as Grace's marriage) to someone called Pearson. However, there is no record of any children.
Grace’s parents were Arthur Wilson and Martha Garnett. Arthur Wilson's mother had no further children. Martha Garnett had brothers and a sister: any offspring would be first cousins 1 x removed. Grace's Husband, Sydney, had an older sister, Hilda Margaret Wood (1916-2007) whose only son, her nephew, is still alive – there were also three great nephews and six great, great nephews/nieces.
Image: Rock House, Silkstone Common (2020)
I was then contacted by a Lady who lives at the address on the identity bracelet. She informed me she had land deeds with old addresses and sent a photo of what the house looked like now... This really did start bringing the search to life!
But then things got very interesting...
Learning that Grace's extended family lived in Retford, I began searching Facebook to see if there were any pages dedicated to sharing stories of historical interest in the Retford area. On doing so, I discovered the 'Retford Past and Present' page. I shared my search on their page to see if there were any Retford locals who might have known the family. My post was shared a magnificent 143 times on Facebook by members of the page! I was blown away by how helpful people were!
Image: Retford Past And Present Facebook Page
Then, out of the blue, I was contacted by John Pearson, a Retford resident, who explained he had been sent a cutting from the 'Barnsley Chronicle' about Grace Wilson's air raid bracelet and he confirmed that Grace was his Mother’s Sister.
We had done it! We finally found a living relative on Grace's side! What an amazing feeling and what a magnificent effort by everyone involved!
I exchanged a few emails with John, giving him a bit of background information and filling him in on my search. I asked him a few questions about Grace and he also very kindly sent through some photos of her, which really did bring the whole search to life. I asked if he would be okay with me writing a blog post about my search, which he agreed to, and I got his consent to include the transcript of our chat and the photos he had sent over.
Image: Grace as a young lady
So, here's what John had to say:
Q. What was Grace like as a person?
Grace was a shy and unassuming person. She went to secretarial college but when she married Sydney she became a full-time homemaker. Having learnt many skills from her mother she went on to develop these further, going to “night school” to learn dress and hat making.
Grace and Sydney were devoted as a couple and most of their social life revolved around the local chapel. They had no children but Grace adored their golden Labrador, Max. They were keen gardeners growing as much of their own produce as possible and where she could, Grace made her own clothes.
They lived in the same house in Mirfield all their married life and were avid collectors of souvenirs from their holidays around the country, particularly Orkney and Shetland. As children we well remember looking at all these objects in the glass fronted display cabinets, so it has come as no surprise that this war time bracelet has turned up, having been tucked away somewhere for many years.
Image: Grace with her parents as a child
Q. Did Grace ever talk about her life as a child during the second world war?
Grace didn’t talk very much about herself or the war, though the family were very much aware of the sound of the bombing of Sheffield and could see the lights in the sky from fires etc. With planes flying overhead on their way to and from Sheffield this must have been very frightening.
Q. What is your fondest memory of Grace?
Grace loved to cook and try new recipes, some of which are still used by her niece today. We have fond memories of her cooking, particularly her homemade chocolates!
Image: Grace in her later years
Q. How does it feel for you to now be in possession of this bracelet?
It is lovely to have this bit of family history in our possession, and it is a tangible connection to Grace herself. Thank you once again for all the trouble you have taken to get it to us. Could you also please thank the lady who sent it to you in the first place.
Image: John With Grace's Identity Bracelet
In such uncertain times I think we all crave some happy news and this has certainly provided me with that, and I hope it has you too! Chatting to John and seeing photos of Grace at different stages of her life, as well as a photo of the address, have really brought this identity bracelet to life and I'd be lying if I said it hadn't been quite an emotional experience. It has been so lovely to hear about Grace's life and I'm just so very pleased that her bracelet is now back where it belongs, with her family.
I'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has helped me in this search, in particular 'Yorkshire Live', the 'Barnsley Chronicle' and to everyone on the 'Retford Past and Present' Facebook page. I'd also like to say a big thank you to John and I wish him and his family the very best for the future.
Well, that's it for this week folks! I hope you've enjoyed this story. Remember to subscribe to my blog to receive notifications of future posts, as well as exclusive discounts and other news! And I want to hear from YOU. So let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!
So, until next week, stay safe, keep buying those antiques and keep spreading that Source Vintage love!
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