To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.

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Middleburgh-The Other Side

At Christmass/New year I typically launch deep internet searches to uncover what has happened over the last year to distant friends and family... This year was different in that I researched the other side of my family history. My mother who was 87 just before Christmass has observed that I have referred to my father's family in this blog but not hers. This corrects that omission.

My mother comes from Northampton and during WWII worked as a supervisor in a munitions factory. She was introduced to my father,who was in the army, by a friend. Her brother, my Uncle Norman, is 7 years younger and was then in the Merchant Navy. He met and married a New Zealander,and after war he migrated there. We have never met but I have cousins in Australia and New Zealand and I did, on one occasion, visit those in Brisbane (with about 1 hours prior notice) when I was travelling through Queensland.

My maternal grandmother (Lizzie Morris - pictured) came from Wolverton, Buckinghamshire now consumed by the infamous Milton Keynes. She had two brothers, Jess and Roland and least 2 sisters, one of whom ,I believe, died. Her older sister Kate married an army officer, Captain Rowbottom. They had 3/4 children Teddy,Kitty,Phyllis (and Ruth?). I vaguely remember an occasion in my youth, we visited gran in Northampton and then went on to visit cousin Kitty and her family.

Mum clearly remembers, as a child, visiting my great grandparents in Young street, Wolverton now demolished (They lived in an end house). Unfortunately she can't remember her grandmother's name but her grandad was William Morris. When I went to university in Wales, mum mentioned that the Morris's came originally from Tenby, Pembrokeshire. My grandmother died in (April 1979 ?) in Northampton.

Mum's family, who were not well off, lived on the outskirts of Northampton. They could walk over the fields to the village where my grandfather came from. At some point though they must have lived in town because I remember my mother taking me for a walk where she used to "live". Actually the area had been demolished and was at that time a large car park, but you make out where the streets used to be. It had been high density terraced housing. We walked the "streets" and she told me about growing up poor in Northampton. Her twin loves were the library and the local Repertory Theatre - both offered escape. (NB Errol Flynn acted for 2 years at the Rep - and you can't get more escapist than that)

My grandfather was was born in July 1888 in Hardingstone, a village famous for it's Eleanors Cross. Mum doesn't remember his parent's names but he had at least one sister Maria. On January 10 1905, he took the King's Shilling and enlisted into the 14th (Kings) hussars.

The 14th (kings) Hussars has merged with other regiments and is now an Armoured Regiment. Then, they were a cavalry regiment with numerous battle honors. During the second Sikh war of 1848 - 1849 the regiment saw action in a cavalry charge at Ramnugger which lead to them being nicknamed "The Ramnugger Boys". They were also known as "The Emperors Chambermaids" as a result of capturing the silver chamber pot belonging to King Joseph Bonaparte, brother of the Emperor Napoleon, during the battle of Vittoria in 1813. In 1790 the Regiment provided the escort for Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal of Prussia on her arrival in England and as a result when she married the Duke of York, authority was granted for the regiment to adopt the Prussian Eagle as a badge to be worn on the right side of the Tarleton helmet. However due to anti German sentiment wearing of the Prussian eagle was discontinued in 1915, although it has now been reinstated in the cap badge of the current incarnation of The King's Royal Hussars.

In 1906 I believe the regiment and my grandfather returned to India to Bangalore 1906 -1911 and then moved to MHOW The regiment basically stayed in India until August/September 1916 when it was deployed in "Mesopotamia" (IRAQ)

It seems however that grandad had gone into the reserves (in either England or Canada) and at outbreak off war he was called back to the 20th Hussars and at beginning November 1914 arrived in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force (Brigadier Gough's 2nd Calvalry Division?) According to his Discharge Certificate he was awarded The 1914 Mons Star (with Clasp ?). I have yet to check his Medal Card) etc at Kew.

He arrived too late to be in any of the major battles of 1914, but probably would have been at Neuve Chapelle, 10-12 March 1915, Battle of St Julien, 26/4 - 3/5/1915 and at Bellwaarde Ridge 24-25/5/1915 (Both 2nd Battle of Ypres). Nothing, then, until he and sixty-five of his comrades transferred to the into the Machine Gun Corp (cavalry) about the end of May to mid-June 1916.

WWI was mostly about trenches and machine guns and of the 170,500 officers and men who served in the MGC, there were 62,049 casualties including 12,498 killed. My grandfather's unit was 5th Squadron .There is a specific Memorial, in Folkstone (where there was a large military hospital), dedicated to the men of the “Mounted Machine Gun Corps”.

After 15 years in the army grandad was discharged on 31 March 1920 at Alexanda Palace. On his Unit Registration papers he was marked down for repatriation to "Canada" and apparently that's where he went for a year or so leaving Lizzie and mum to fend for themselves, before eventually returning. Mum remembers that life was very hard. Granddad came out of army basically unskilled, without any trade or savings, soldering was all that he d knew. She very clearly remembers how very badly ordinary returning soldiers were treated. "A land fit for heroes" is not her recollection. She told me about taking food to homeless war damaged soldiers living in 'lean to's' alongside the railway lines and how she found one ex soldier dead from cold (and societies neglect). She felt very strongly about it.

Unfortuantely like my other grandfather I never met him because he died before I was born

For those who are interested there are more family photos on my photoblog and on flickr

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