SAVE AS another file name so you dont destroy this one.
100 Years in a Professing Family (1900/2000)
The Early Days
Very early in the 1900s, two sisters, Mary and Alice, were born and grew up together in Sheffield, Yorkshire. They were a very close family.
Eventually Mary married Ken and Alice married Bob a couple of years later. Ken worked on the railway and Bob was a toolmaker at one of the very large steel works that were in Sheffield at that time.
In 1930 Bob, together with twelve other men who worked together, contracted TB, which, in those days was a killer.
These 13 TB patients were placed in an isolation hospital, on the moors and quite a distance outside Sheffield. The very name of the hospital caused a dreadful fear in people, as it was a very rare occurrence for anyone to come out of there alive. That area now is a very upmarket district of Sheffield and only the name remains.
In 1931 Mary gave birth to her only child, a son. I was that son and I was born in a room in a house of a professing family. Gradually the 13 patients were dying off and Bob was sent home to die there. Alice stood in the street and prayed to God, whom she had been brought up to believe in. She promised that if Bob’s life were spared for a few more years she would devote her life to God. Very soon after that the two Workers came into her life and she professed.
Bob slowly improved in health and he was the only one out of the 13 who survived. The inevitable happened, Evelyn and John, the two girls’ parents, decided. Then when I was four or five-years-old Mary and Ken decided. I remember very well those early days, going to meetings and not daring to move, let alone speak. These people dressed in extremely sombre clothes were really quite frightening to a young lad. However, I became increasingly used to them and had to call them “Uncle” this “Aunty” that - I had more aunties and uncles than anyone else I knew. It was only later after attending conventions at Uttoxeter that I realised there were more children like me with all these aunts and uncles.
100 Years – 2
My grandparents, Evelyn & John had the Sunday night meeting in their home - the Sunday morning and Wednesday evening meetings were at the Baxter’s, we attended every meeting. We lived in a council house at Shiregreen, a district of Sheffield and Aunty Alice & Uncle Bob lived in a small terraced house two or three miles away. About this time I remember Grandma dying just about the time that Dad bought our first house at Wadsley Bridge. This was a nice semi-detached house and Granddad moved in with us.
Aunty Alice & Uncle Bob never had any children so I was the only child in this close-knit family, sleeping there on many occasions. We visited them, they visited us, we went on holidays together; Christmas and birthdays were always celebrated together. It was always said that I had four parents to bring me up. Maybe I needed four! We continued attending meetings, conventions, special meetings at Christmas - we usually went to Leeds, Nottingham, Lincoln or Manchester for these. As a young lad, growing up I looked on these as something of an adventure.
Conventions involved a train journey, being picked up by a farm lorry then taken way out into the country to a place were there were several large tents - the meeting tent, food tent, luggage tent and so on. Sleeping accommodation was in barns and we had to fill sacks with straw and slept on the floor, men in one barn, the ladies in another on a different part of the farm. All the people were always dressed very soberly and looked the same. All wearing very dark clothing, the women had black stockings and their hair done in a bun or two plaits and coiled in an earpiece round each ear. The sexes were always kept apart, sitting in different parts in the meeting and food tents. The workers were always kept separate sleeping in a house behind the main farm building. I am describing the convention that was at the Heath’s Farm, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. A convention is still held at the same place even today although it is not so far in the countryside these days due to the expansion in building. The other conventions that I occasionally attended had very similar arrangements.
Sheffield was quite a stronghold for “The Truth” in the late 1920s early 1930s and, if I remember rightly, the Harrison’s were the first people in that city to profess. They were well known butchers in those days. Aunty Alice & Uncle Bob professed through Mary Knox, Grandma and Granddad through Emily Ruddle and my parents through Emmilene Parkin and Hilda Miller. The workers used to stay at both our house and Aunty Alice & Uncle Bob’s. Consequently, I knew quite a lot of them including Willy Batts, Willy Gill, Ben Bowles, Jack Forbes and so on, in fact quite a lot of the workers mentioned on one of the 2x2 websites were well known to us. I remember one time when Emily Ruddle and her companion sailed to South America (I think it was South America) Aunty Alice & Uncle Bob, Mum, Dad and I went to Southampton to see her leave on one of the big liners that used to sail from that port in those days. This was quite convenient as Uncle Bob’s eldest sister, Betty, lived in Netley, a small village just outside Southampton. She and her husband, Jim, were professing and all the workers who sailed from England stayed there, as did those arriving in England from far-off lands. As I remember, Aunty Betty and Uncle Jim had four children, Tom, Albert, Joan and Jean - not in that order - and they all professed with the exception of Jean. You will see how this Southampton connection plays a large part in the latter part of this story.
All this was before World War 2. I remember the declaration of war very well. It was a Sunday morning and, after the meeting, we called at an aunt’s (not professing) house and heard Neville Chamberlain’s famous speech, “...this country is at war with Germany”. At the time, this did not make much of an impression on a young lad and life carried on much the same for a while, but things did begin to change. A Sunday evening meeting was started at our house in Wadsley Bridge; one was opened at the Tazziman’s in Stocksbrdge, a small town about 15 miles from Sheffield whose main claim to fame was a large stainless steel mill that dominated the town. “The Truth” was very active and flourished in the area. Missions were held in many different areas in and around Sheffield.
One particular mission that stands out above all others, indeed I will never forget that night. It was in the winter of 1941 and was in the Baxter’s home. It was a Thursday evening; a full moon was shining from a clear sky and it was extremely cold and frosty. The ground seemed to be covered with snow but it was frost. The two workers were Ben Bowles and George Savage (Uncle Ben and Uncle George to us youngsters). I remember that Ben had a wooden leg and, when he was standing, a spring in the wooden leg would ping every so often. The mission started at 19:00 and at 19:10, during the first of the prayers, the air-raid warning went off. Five minutes after the sirens the first bomb exploded and they continued to fall and explode.
The mission followed the usual pattern which was, a hymn, Ben, the senior worker prayed, another hymn then George the junior worker spoke; a second hymn then Ben spoke, George prayed and a final hymn; the whole meeting lasting about 1 to 1½ hours. This night was different because of the air raid and the bombing.
There were about 30 people in the meeting, a mixture of professing and non-professing and Ben asked if any of them, would like to leave. No one did. Ben spoke until about 22:30 - not preaching to us but talking about his experiences in general. He was a very good speaker and kept us all interested. As you can imagine, 30 people in the room made it a little crowded and, as a youngster aged eight or nine-years-old, I was sat on a small stool in between Uncle Bob’s legs. I tried to fall asleep at times but the exploding bombs would not let anyone sleep that night apart from Mrs Baxter’s newly born daughter, Ruth, who slept through it all.
The bombing became more intensified and, about 22:30, Ben decided to close the meeting. Some went down into the cellar; we all had a cup of tea. One chap, a workmate of Dad’s who wanted to hear what these meetings Dad went to were all about, decided to walk home to see if his Mum and sister were all right. They were and he returned after about an hour. Some of us went outside to see if we could see anything and we certainly did. Sheffield was ablaze. The first lot of bombs dropped were incendiary bombs and they had hit the main gasometers in the city and this, together with the full moon and heavy frost, made it like daylight. One bomb, falling very close to us, blew out the windows of neighbouring houses and caused the doors to burst open. Nothing happened to the Baxter’s house. Of course, the Christians, as they call themselves, all said that it was the Lord taking care of them. No one mentioned the fact that the house we were in was in a corner and sheltered by the other three or four around us. It was a very frightening night.
Bombs fell continuously until about 04:30 the following morning when the all-clear went. We all then made our individual ways home, walking of course as all public transport had long been put out of action and there were no private cars in those days.
100 Years – 3
The Thursday night blitz on Sheffield wasn’t the last. Sunday night meeting was at our house; it was a normal meeting, not a gospel meeting or mission as the Thursday night was. It had just started when the dreaded sirens went. Ben Bowles (Uncle Ben) was there, remember he was one of the early workers, and this time he kept the meeting short. There were only about 10 people present, all professing, and some went into the air raid shelter we had at the top of the garden, some stayed indoors and a couple decided to walk home as they lived only a few miles away. This was a repetition of the Thursday night blitz except the all-clear went earlier. Apparently, the weather over then English Channel changed and the German bombers were called back about 02:00.
During the early days of the war, the UK Government decided to evacuate English children and my Mum and Dad decided to send me to Canada. Alwyn and Lizzie Smelt, who met with us, had lived in Canada and Mum and Dad asked them if they knew of anyone over there who would be willing to take me as an evacuee for the duration of the war. It was decided that I should go to Canada and move in with some professing people. George and Edie Malcolm were their names and they lived in Churchbridge, Saskatchewan. I found out their names only recently while I was sorting through some old letters of Mum and Dad after they had died - these letters are reprinted elsewhere. I remember very clearly standing in the school playground in very orderly groups with other children being evacuated. Lots of Mums and Dads were there; lots of tears and goodbyes were being said, when Dad came over to me and took me out of the group and said, ‘You are not going, if we have to be killed in the bombing, we will all go together’. This is one of those things that stick in the mind and it seems as though it was only yesterday when this happened but it was 1940. As it happened, the boat I was to sail on was torpedoed and there were only a few survivors. I was always told that I should have sailed the “Athenia” but it could not have been as she was the first to be sunk in 1939, just after the declaration of war, I was due to sail on the “City of Benares” in 1940. I have not heard from these obviously good people in Saskatchewan and do not know if they are still living or even if anyone over there in Canada knew them. It would be nice if there were and I was contacted. It is a lot to ask though as all this was 60 years ago.
Things generally settled down, the school I was attending closed down as it was taken over for the war effort. I moved to a primary school nearer home and it was getting close to the “scholarship”, an examination at 11-years-old that decided which high school you moved on to or whether you stayed at the elementary school. As my birthday is in January, I was 11 at the time I sat the exam. This exam was later to become the 11 plus and then abandoned years later. I took the exam in 1942 and, as the time for the results to be published approached, the tension increased. Would I achieve a pass, or would it be failure? During this waiting period Granddad died so he never knew the result, something he was keenly interested in. He was 67 and he seemed extremely old to me. The results came through; I had passed for one of the top grammar schools in Sheffield.
Things continued as normal as they could be considering all the air-raids, rationing, shortages and all that war brings with it. It is surprising how things very soon become accepted as normal, no matter how bad they are. Life continued and the shortages and deprivations, the queuing and bad news all became accepted. Surely this is how a religion or anything else come to that, can become perfectly normal and acceptable in the lives of many people?
One of the “brothers” received his call-up papers and he registered as a “Conscientious Objector”. This caused quite a stir. It made headlines in the local paper - that did not go down very well with the Workers. Dad, being a railway signalman, was in a “reserved occupation”, which meant that he was needed more in his job of keeping the trains running carrying essential supplies, ammunition, equipment, soldiers, sailors and airmen than he was needed in the forces.
During the war, the conventions were stopped as the white tents could easily be seen from the air by enemy aircraft. Instead, special meetings were held similar to those held at Christmas. I had to go to all meetings that Mum and Dad attended, Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evenings plus any gospel meetings that were held in Sheffield. The Sunday morning meeting was an “open” meeting where each of “the Friends” spoke from their own bible study. The Sunday and Wednesday evening meeting each spoke from a set bible study; Sunday was usually from the New Testament, Wednesday from the Old Testament. We had no radio, television was not available in those days, and I was not allowed to go to the pictures (movies) or take part in any of the Scout’s Church Parades. I often asked why but I did not get any satisfactory answer.
My grammar school had a long tradition of music and I was in the school choir. One of the schoolmasters died suddenly, he was a popular teacher with the lads and quite young really but we lads did not appreciate his age, all teachers were old to us. The school choir had to sing at his funeral and this caused a lot of soul searching for Mum and Dad because it meant me singing in one of Sheffield’s large Church of England churches. What should they do? If they refused to let me go on religious grounds, it would look as if they did not care. If they let me go what on earth would the meeting people think? After a great deal of deliberation they decided that I should go, but only because I was singing in the choir. If I hadn’t been in the choir they would definitely have not let me attend.
The next major decision came when we were studying some aspect of the war at sea, I forget the details as it is nearly 60 years ago and all pupils were advised to go and see the film, “The Arc Royal”. I had never been to the pictures, it was much too “worldly” and maybe I would become contaminated with something or other. I was at a loss; my teachers asked me all kinds of questions, ‘Why can’t you go?’ ‘What church is it?’ and so on. Eventually my form teacher contacted Mum and Dad and, as a result, I was allowed to see this film but only on the understanding that I came straight home afterwards and must not mix too much with anyone else other than the lads from my form. The big day eventually arrived for me to “go to the pictures”. I was given a long lecture about worldly things, warned what to do and what not to do and so on. When I walked into the cinema I was absolutely “gob smacked”. I had seen home movies as Uncle Bob had a 9.5mm camera and projector. The pictures on this were silent, jumped about all over the place and were, generally out of focus; remember this was in the 1940s. What I saw on the big screen in this real picture house was magic to me; I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. When I arrived back home Mum and Dad asked me all sorts of questions and, eventually, they were satisfied that I had not become contaminated by this very worldly excursion.
After this unheard of relaxation of “The Rules” and I did not start growing horns, neither did I become terribly ill for mixing with “the world”, things gradually became more and more relaxed. By this time I had left the Scouts and joined the Sea Cadets. I was in the band and often we played on church parades, I was allowed to go to all these. I remember Mum having her hair done for the first time and only after long deliberations. Of course, it was only a slight perm. Instead of the plaits and ear coils, she always had had a bun or a roll instead.
The war eventually ended, conventions were again held at Staffs (Staffordshire), Lancs., and all the other places they had been held pre-war. One I particularly remember was when Jack Forbes was speaking from the platform at a Staffs Convention and mentioned the black stockings, hair and the dark clothes worn by the sisters. They were starting to look very different from other ladies. Remember after the war fashion rapidly changed. All these black stockings etc. really started to stand out. This statement from Jack caused quite a stir and, I suspect, a lot of jubilation amongst the women at that convention. Hair styles gradually changed, stockings became a little lighter in colour. Skirts went from black and navy blue to a mid green, brown, maroon was particularly daring but it did creep in. The hairstyles went from a very austere bun to a looser roll or plait turned up over the head. Shoe heels became a little higher and the lace-up boots went. There was no lipstick or anything like that but there was the occasional hint of lavender or slight dusting of talcum powder. I was at an age when, as a growing lad, I started to take an interest in these things. I wonder why?
It was now 1946, I left school, started work, met Margaret, who I eventually married and was increasingly exposed to “worldly” things. I had even started smoking although Mum and Dad did not know, or so I thought because they must have been able to smell tobacco smoke on my breath. I had to explain to Margaret why I could not meet her at the usual times on Sunday and Wednesday evenings and she accepted this. As most couples do, we went to the movies, dancing, plays and the variety shows that were in abundance at that time. At first I felt guilty, but that did not last very long. I still had to attend the meetings and conventions but I was bored stiff and could not wait for them to end. I suppose in those days I became a bit of a rebel. One thing the grammar school had taught me was to question things; never to accept things on face value, try to find a reason for things. God had given us all a brain and the ability to question so we should do just that. I did but could not get any satisfactory answers about this Truth.
100 Years – 4
The next few years carried on much the same until I received my call-up papers for National Service in 1949. I joined the Royal Air Force as a Driver, Mechanical Transport, what a grandiose sounding name?
During my time in the RAF I did not go to meetings but Margaret would occasionally sit in the Wednesday or Sunday night meeting. Sometimes when I was home on leave I would take Margaret to a convention for the day but gradually all contact with the meetings ceased.
During my National Service, Mum and Dad moved from Sheffield to Gorleston, Norfolk, a small seaside resort, where they took a small boarding house taking holiday visitors during the summer.
I completed my National Service in May 1951 and we got married in 1952 and lived in Gorleston, buying a small house reasonably close to Mum and Dad’s. In 1955 we decided to move back to Sheffield and bought a house there and I got a job in one of the steel rolling mills where Uncle Bob and Aunt Alice worked at the time. Every time there were Gospel meetings we were always asked to attend but did not do so for a few years but, eventually, in 1958 we attended and both of us professed. I guess that is a very familiar story to many B&R 2x2ers; from what I have seen over the years subtle pressure is applied to family members and it does seem to follow a pattern. I would be interested if anyone else reading this has had a similar experience. We attended the meetings regularly and, since I was a B&R I knew all the Sheffield “Christians”. We went to the Sunday morning meeting which was at Aunt Alice and Uncle Bob’s. Sunday night meeting was at Rosie and Dennis Brown’s, who lived in Stocksbridge, a small steel town about 12 miles out of Sheffield. The Wednesday night meeting was held at one of Dad’s sisters in Hillsborough, a district of Sheffield. When you look at those in the meetings it is a real family affair, it is here in the UK and I suppose it is the same elsewhere. Probably easy to apply pressure to family members when recruiting.
Jayne, our only daughter, was born in 1960 and in 1962, both of us “Professing Christians”, decided to move back to East Anglia and bought the property we still occupy. It was here that we met the Johnsons and the Smiths, who had meetings in their homes.
In 1963 Dad retired from the railway and we let him have a small plot of land adjacent to our bungalow where he had a bungalow built and he and Mum moved in. Uncle Bob retired in 1967 and he and Aunt Alice moved to Oulton, a district of Lowestoft so, once again, we were all together in the same area.
A few years later, Margaret started to get very disillusioned by what she heard in the meetings. These were so different to what people did and she stopped going in1978, I continued until 1994 but that was to take Mum and Dad to the meetings as Dad could no longer drive due to poor eye-sight. They had been professing since about 1933/4, but "The Truth" had been in the family longer than that, before I was born.
100 Years – 5
In chapter I mention Uncle Bob’s sister who lived near Southampton. One of her daughters, Joan professed and one of her boys, Tom, used to visit Aunt Alice after uncle Bob had died. He always stayed with Margaret and I as it was considered more appropriate at the time. During these visits he met May, one of the Castleton’s daughters, she had professed. Over time they got married and, as Tom was not professing, May was not allowed to take the bread and wine on Sunday mornings, eventually Tom professed and the ban on May was lifted.
As the years passed by Tom told everyone that he was Aunt Alice’s nephew, which of course was not true. He was Uncle Bob’s nephew and, as Uncle Bob died many years before, he was no longer a relation to Aunt Alice. A lot of pressure was put on Aunt Alice during that time and she eventually stopped coming to us, preferring to stay with the Castleton’s for holiday times such as Christmas etc. I’ll never forget the last words she spoke to me, ‘I’ve done the wrong thing haven’t I, I’m so sorry’. What she meant by this is not for public consumption, the few involved will understand what I am referring to. I was holding her hand and replied, ‘It’s all right, don’t worry’.
Aunt Alice died very soon after that, she was over 100-years-old and things became quite messy. All I will say here is that she had only two blood relatives, my daughter Jayne and me, and we had nothing to do with her funeral.
100 Years – 6
I have had some success in my research about the time I should have sailed for Canada.
I should have been on the liner, “City of Benares”, which sailed out of Liverpool on September 13th. She had a crew of about 200 and there were many passengers and children on board. All these children were going to spend the war years in Canada, away from the danger of the bombing. When the “City of Benares” was about 600 miles out in the Atlantic she was hit broadside on by a torpedo fired from the U48 and she sank in about half and hour. This was in the early hours of September 17, 1940.
Pictures and a brief report from the press at the time are below. There are quite a few anomalies and discrepancies in these reports but they were written at the time and I cannot change them. Remember back in those there wasn’t the instant communication that we have today.
The Ellerman Lines Flagship City of Benares, whose loss by torpedo was all the more tragic as 77 evacuee children lost their lives in the disaster.
CITY OF BENARES (1936 - 1940)
Ellerman Lines, Great Britain; Barclay Curle, Glasgow. 11,081 GRT, 509 ft (155.1m) LOA, 62ft (18.9m) beam. 219 passengers in single class. Steam turbines, twin screw, 15kts.
Date of disaster: 17 September 1940.
The loss by torpedo of the Ellerman Lines flagship City of Benares on 17 September 1940 was one of the most tragic disasters of the Second World War, for she was engaged in carrying evacuee children to Canada. At that time British Government policy was to encourage the evacuation of juniors to the apparent safety of North America and South Africa for the duration, under a scheme managed on their behalf by the Children's Overseas Reception Board. The City of Benares departed Liverpool in convoy OB213 on 13 September 1940, bound for Montreal and Quebec. Aboard were 199 passengers, of whom 90 were children, and a crew 209. Four days later, when she was about 600 miles out into the Atlantic, in the position 56º 48' N - 21º 15' W, the City of Benares was torpedoed by the German submarine U48 under the command of Capt. Heinrich Bleichrodt. The attack occurred only a matter of hours after the convoy's Royal Navy escort had been withdrawn. The torpedo struck the Benares on the port side and she remained afloat for only a short period, during which time every effort was made to launch the boats. However, the weather was dirty and the seas very rough, some lifeboats capsizing and drowning their occupants. There followed a harrowing night on the open sea in freezing conditions, many of the survivors, particularly among the children, dying of exposure. Most of those rescued were picked up the following day by the destroyer HMS Hurricane, but one boat was not picked up until 10 days later, when it was sighted by a Sunderland flying-boat which directed a warship to its aid. In all, 258 of those aboard the City of Benares were killed, including 77 of the 90 children. In fact only 57 of her passengers survived the attack. Immediately after this tragedy the Government terminated the child evacuation programme to prevent similar disasters.
Before the war the City of Benares had sailed between Liverpool and Bombay via the Mediterranean, in conditions which were a far cry from those on the North Atlantic that had witnessed her destruction.
On her way to Canada was the 11,081-ton Ellerman liner, City of Benares, the Association said today.
(The City of Benares was built in 1936 at Glasgow and was in the England-India trade before the war.
The liner had three decks and was 485 feet long with a beam of 62 feet.
Like many passenger liners, she was taken over by the Admiralty for the war service.
Below are transcripts of some letters exchanged with the family I was going to stay with in Canada, Edie and George Malcolm. I found these when I was going through Mum and Dad’s affairs after they had died. I have also photocopied the originals.
147 Lyminster Road
Mr & Mrs G Malcolm
My Dear Both
No doubt you will be surprised to receive this letter from one you have never seen but we are all Brothers and Sisters in Jesus.
I suppose you will have heard of the evacuation of English children and it makes one think hard. We meet in the same church as Alwyne and Lizzie Smelt and I asked them before writing you if they thought any of the Christians in Canada would have my little boy, 9, I wouldn’t like him brought up in a home of a Roman Catholic or any other than The Truth or if you knew of anyone who would have him.
We are told if we have an address to send the children to we can do. I never thought I would have to write to a Brother or Sister under such circumstances but feel you would understand.
The evacuation is not compulsory yet but would let him come if you were willing to have him.
We have had several air-raids and one night had to get up seven times but feel thankful to the Lord no damage has been done so far in Sheffield.
We are taking Ruth for Bible reading and noticed how Ruth left all and did the right thing and was a help. My husband and I have been professing about five years also my father and mother (now passed on) my only sister and her hubby and feel it is the only thing worthwhile these days with so much unrest and strife going on around.
I am enclosing a photograph so you will have an idea what we are like also would willingly answer anything you would like to write back about. We are both 38 years of age.
(This is the only page of this letter my Mum wrote that I could find. I think there should be at least one more page. Nev)
July 21 1940
Dear Sister and Brother
We received your letter today and can say we would be glad to have your little boy in our home. There are only three of us here at present, George, his brother, Art and I and we are all professing. We just came home from our convention at Theodore, about 90 miles from here last week. We surely had helpful meetings and would just long to prove more faithful to the Lord in the coming year.
We were really glad to get your letter as for some time we have felt we should offer to take in some evacuated children and yet one wonders just who we might get and whether it would be successful but Neville looks such a pleasant bright little fellow I’m sure we’d get along fine and as you folks and we are one in heart in the Lord it will make it so much easier to confide in each other. You can let me know any particular characteristics you’d like encouraged or guarded against and I’ll do my best to co-operate.
Suppose Alwyne would tell you we are farmers and he could tell you a good deal about us or rather, my family as we are well acquainted. If you know of any other saints’ children who would like to come to homes in this part. I am sure there would be no difficulty getting them into Christian homes as all seem very anxious to be of a help that way.
We are half a mile from the school so your little boy will not have far to go to school if he comes here. What work are you folks engaged in?
We surely sympathise with you and others who are parting with your children this way but hope it will all work out for the best and that the separation wont be for long.
Tell Alwyne we’ll be writing him sometime in the near future. We are having a real busy summer and are thankful for lots of rain the crops are looking pretty good.
This is Monday morning and George is ready to leave for town so must close this. Hope all are well there. We were sorry to hear Alwyne had burned his hand.
With Christian love
Yours in Christ George and Edie Malcolm
PS: You may send your little boy as soon as you wish. EM
4 Hessle Road
Dear Sister and Brother
This past two or three days different things that have been spoken about here at home reminded me of you and what prompted us to write to you in the first place, then looking through some old letters I came across yours. It is four years since we received it. I know we answered this letter at the time but do not know whether you received it, we did think at the time that it had gone down.
If you remember we wrote to you about sending our boy, Neville, out to you when things looked very black and shall never forget how ready you were to take this responsibility seeing that we were strangers. It just shows what the love of God really is. We are all human beings and have doubts and fears but we here have proved God’s love in the different experiences which have been thrust upon us. There have been many changes one way and another. The last time we wrote to you our address was 147 Lyminster Road, Wadsley Bridge, Sheffield, now it is changed to the above.
Neville passed his exam at school and now goes to a grammar school. When he starts in September again after the holidays it will be his third year, he is 13½ years old now. I am pleased to say that all Christians in and around Sheffield are safe and well. We are more fortunate than those down south just now where the flying bombs are falling they are terrible things.
The letter you sent us is dated July 21st, 1940, you received the photo we sent you so you will have an idea what we look like. I am a Railway Signalman on the London and North Eastern Railway and Mary does a lot of dressmaking. Of course foodstuff is rationed, clothing and material is on coupons but we have nothing to grumble about.
If you haven’t remembered who we are by now I think you will when I mention Alwyne and Lizzie Smelt. Did you know that they called him up? He is a Storekeeper, I think, in the Ordnance Corps.
We have not been able to have conventions here for the last three years and we do miss them. We have special meetings; they are good for us but not like conventions. We went to special meetings last Sunday and I felt my need of them. I miss quite a number of Fellowship meetings through being on different turns at work and I only have every third Sunday off.
Alwyne did tell us about you but, you know, Alwyne was never made to go in the works, he is a born farmer. I know we miss him; he was a real help in the meetings. Well no more now hoping this letter finds you all well and don’t think too badly of us for such a long time in writing you again.
Yours with Love in Jesus
Mary and Ken Sanderson