Today is the 112th birthday of my maternal Grandfather, George Butcher.
Born in 1908 in Wanborough, Surrey, he was one of 9 children who survived into adulthood from a family of 12.
At the time of the Second World War he was working for a local Dairy called Lymposs & Smee at Guildford, which later became Unigate Dairies. His three brothers and oldest sister Rose, who was married was living at Manor Farm Guildford. Two of his other sisters were living in nearby in the villages of Shackleford & Hurtmore and the second eldest was living in Essex with her husband who was a military man.
This photograph was taken at Manor Farm, Guildford, likely before his first posting, which happened to be Sierra Leone in West Africa, where he was stationed from midway through 1941 until December 1943. At this point my Grandfather was aged 32 and had been married just over a year. My Grandparents spent a lot of time with my Grandfather’s family and my Grandmother’s sister Elsie. My Grandmother’s brother married to my Grandfather’s sister and was living as I said, in Hurtmore. The families were connected and associated with each other and maintained a fairly good communication stream regardless of the absence of the social media platforms of today. Letters and cards were always sent either through the postal services or via family members.
According to his Pay Book, my Grandfather was granted 28 days leave 9 November 1943, he was then granted a further week from 12 December 1943. His father had been unwell and died on 10th December 1943 according to his death certificate, with his death registered by my late Great Aunt who was the eldest, on 13 December.
The pay book shows no further annual leave after December 1943, meaning that he remained on active service until he was demobbed in 1946.
Turning to look at the service record, the document shows that upon enlistment in Dec 1940 he spent 146 days on home soil. He was sent off to West Africa on 7 May 1941 where he spent 2 years and 186 days. He then spent time again on home soil and then was sent off to north west Europe from July 1944 where remained until March 1946.
Sitting on my to do list for far too long has been a detailed assessment of his time in West Africa and during his time in Europe and how that matches up with other key dates.
My Grandfather was awarded four medals which hang in my living room, alongside a tapestry which he worked on to kill some time whilst he was stationed in Sierra Leone.
My Grandparents were happily married for almost 35 years. After my Grandfather’s death in 1974, she remained a widow, living another 21 years.