RIP Herberta de Man


Herberta de Man

11 April 1917 – 28 September 2014

Born, Herberta Algar, in London in 1917 – Can anyone imagine it? The BBC didn’t start public television broadcasts until 1936. She was nineteen before there was even any television, never mind Internet!

Her grandmother was disabled, her father didn’t survive WWI and her mother died when she was eleven. Her elder sister had moved away from home by then, so she and her brother were sent to different orphanages, she rarely saw him after that.

After the struggle to survive at home with a terminally ill parent, Auntie remembered her time in the orphanage with a mixture of pleasure and satisfaction. She went to school, for the first time and, from her remarks, she obviously did well. Not only did they teach her to read and write, but she was taught to clean, to iron and to make beds and “All sorts of useful things, not just that other stuff.” as she would tell us when we could get her to talk about her childhood.  Useful things they were too! When she had to leave the orphanage she was able to find work as a chambermaid in a large London hotel.

Then came WWII, she went to work in a machine shop. This started the chain of events that led to hiding under the kitchen table to ‘escape’ the bombs, and her marriage to Uncle Pete. After the war, they moved out of London to one of the new towns, then being built to house those made homeless by bomb and fire. I think this was probably the happiest time for her.

Today’s picture is bluebells. Do you remember, Auntie, Uncle Pete planted them near the back door so you could see them through the kitchen window?

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