Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Family at Old Swan House Post-Christmas 2014

The family came together at Old Swan House post Christmas (with the exception of Radha, and Ayako who was in London) from 26th to 30th December 2014. We all stayed at the house (with the exception of Prue and Thomas who stayed at the Greyhound, and Herry had two nights at The White Hart), filling all the corners (and beds) for the first time and eating most of our meals there. It was very cold - (-4C in the mornings) and we kept the fire alight all day.  There was ice on the pond, which got spectacularly broken on the last morning.

The family went up to London on Saturday 28th December and met up with Kei and had lunch at Harvey Nicks

Kei, Thomas, Marijke, Millie, Prue, Char and Edward at Harvey Nicks

Edward, Thomas, Felicity, Johnny, Christien, Prue and Abe. Boodle and Will behind. 
We held a party on Sunday 29th evening for some close friends: Belin and Will Martin, Nichola, Johnny and Henrietta *Cooke, Jay-Jay and Andrew* Kinnear, Felicity and Abe Gibbs, Denise and Christien Hay, and Ian and Jane McCormick* and Oli Stevens came with Kei.  Carol and Oli Bowhill and Ian Wilson-Young couldn't come. Charlie Skipwith was in France following Lucie's funeral, as was Geoff Spawton in Wales following Annie's demise. *Couldn't come

Boodle, Prue, Herry, Edward, Marijke, Thomas, Char and Millie on Beacon Hill with Stocks and Harvestgate in the valley below Old Winchester Hill behind. Taken with a self stick!
We visited Stocks and Harvestgate and had lunch in the White Horse in Droxford, and went into Winchester. Of course we went round the shops in Stockbridge too.

Edward, Thomas, Char, Prue, Boodle, Millie, Marijke and Zoe outside King's Head House

On Tuesday night we had dinner at the Greyhound (where Prue and Thomas were staying).

The family left for Paris on 30th December morning, in a very sharp frost. 

Thomas, Edward, Marijke, Prue, Char, Zoe and Boodle breaking ice on the pond

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Obituary: Ernie Stiles 1941 - 2014

Ernie at Harvestgate Cottage 2012

Ernest Stiles was born on 17th May 1941 to Alfred and Edith Stiles at Hillcrest in Meonstoke, within sight of the Bucks Head.  He was the youngest of three boys and is survived by his brothers Alfie and Phil. Ernie went to Meonstoke School and then to Cowplain, and left school at 15 - as was common in those days - and started work for my father Patrick Lawford at Stocks Farm in October 1956. Ernie remained at Stocks all his working life until Patrick Lawford died in 2002 and the farm was sold – a total of 46 years.

Ernie met Sylvia Painter when he was sixteen and she 14 and they married in 1963, when he was 22. Sylvia came from a family of eight from West Meon. Together they had four children - Jane, Andrew, Phillippa and Richard, and there are three grandchildren, Chloe, Rebecca and Jessica. Richard still lives with Sylvia at home at Harvestgate while the others are in Bishops Waltham, the Isle of Wight and Devon – and all are of course here today. 

I would like to tell a little of the story of Ernie’s life from the time he joined Stocks. On Saturday 14th October 1956 my father’s farm diary includes ‘Stiles Boy’ for the first time in the list of those working there – which in those days included Reg Whitear, then the head man, John Spreadbury, who had joined he farm in October 1950, the year we moved in, George Langridge (who my brother Piers and I called ‘long-nose’) and who later worked at Peake, Tyrell and ‘Shep’ Frampton, who had worked with my father at Litchfield. In those days there were seven or eight men working regularly on the farm, and there were three cottages in the village on the hill above the Buck’s Head, as well as two at ‘Blackhouse’ on the down under Old Winchester Hill - now an enormous pile called Stocks Down Farm and rented to Dr Morris, who has been so good with Ernie throughout his long illness (but I am getting ahead of myself).

In the those early days Ernie had a BSA motorbike, which Sylvia remembers cleaning, and they used to travel together to watch stock car and speedway racing in Southampton.  They married on 30th November 1963, and the farm diary records the wedding - naturally on a Saturday – but by Monday Ernie was back at work and he spent the rest of the week ploughing. He and Sylvia moved into one of the Blackhouse cottages, which being high up under Old Winchester Hill had by far the best view in the valley - at least they used to until a later tenant, Stan Cutler, planted a Christmas tree in the front garden!  

Ernie’s life was bounded by the farms and villages around Stocks, and he never travelled very far.  To the north, there was the imposing bulk of Old Winchester Hill, which was taken over from us by the Nature Conservancy in 1954, and behind it Peake Farm and the McPhails where Ernie was sometimes sent to help. To the East was Parkers, and Tom Parker could often be seen up, riding the boundaries in his polished riding boots or in the lane in a pony and trap, and we all marveled at ‘the Cathedral’ – the huge drier and grain store which he built over the hill from us. To the south and west were the Horns - Bob and Stephen – and down Stocks Lane towards Meonstoke, the Biles’s at Harvestgate Farm, which we bought on Tom Biles’s retirement in 1970.  Ernie and Sylvia moved into Harvestgate Farmcottage and remained there to this day. Down Stocks Lane were the Minors and beyond them Bruce Horn at Shavards, the Martins in Exton and above Corhampton, the Rowsells. And Ernie worked with all of them, for as we shall see, he was also a great beater.

When Ernie first came to Stocks, he would have driven the old Fordson tractors without cabs and other comforts, possibly still started by hand, but he became a good ploughman, winning some ploughing matches. But my memories of Ernie then were more often on one of the Fordsons with a buck rake on the front, moving stuff around the yard or carting feed. Ernie had many years potato and sugar beet harvesting and used to take trailer-loads of sugar-beet to Droxford station where the invariably wet and muddy beet had to be loaded by hand onto the wagons using those strange blunt-ended forks. In later years, he ran the drier, working for hours in the heat and dust to clean and dry the grain and either bag it or move it into great piles from where it could be loaded onto the grain lorries. Ernie would work, as all the men did, late into the night and at weekends without complaint, until the harvest was in and safely stored away. But that heat and dust made his job particularly arduous.  

Ernie had the customary schooling, but I wonder if his teachers knew that he would turn out to be good as he was at mental arithmetic? Bruce Horn remembers the terrifying ‘Tiger’ Harris at Cowplain who would hurl the blackboard rubber at you and once cut open David Cook’s head. But Ernie was extremely quick; a skill learned perhaps not from school but from playing darts, which was his main pastime. He loved to play with friends like Tony Farnell, John Miles and George Hambly at the Buck’s Head and in the Thomas Lord West Meon and won may cups and trophies. Indeed his daughter Jane told me that she wasn’t allowed to play darts with him until she could score  - and what a brilliant way that was to get your children to lean arithmetic!  And his skill was not only essential at darts, but also invaluable on the farm, as my brother Fairfax remembers that he always knew exactly how many bales there were in a rick, or bags in a stack in the barn. And despite being slim, he was strong too, with Fairfax, who worked with him for a year before going to Cirencester, again remembering that he (and fellow-pupil David Williams) could together stack 200cwt sacks of wheat up to three tiers high! We all know what ‘health and safety’ would say to that today – not to mention the fact that Fairfax and I used to do some of the corn cart from the age of about ten!

But in addition to his traditional farm duties, Ernie was extremely helpful and reliable and he became indispensible to my parents, undertaking many duties apart from tractor driving, such as feeding the animals, pheasants, chickens and sometimes ducks – if the fox hadn’t had them - as well as the dogs when my parents were away. When there wasn’t one, he was also unofficial keeper, which suited his other love, that of beating.  Ernie beat at all the shoots my father had at Stocks and at many of those on the neighbouring farms as well.  Rod Rowell, the Parker’s keeper, knew him from his teens and just now from Scotland, couldn’t speak highly enough of him. He admired not only his skill as a beater and always being in the right place (or more particularly perhaps, of not being in the wrong one!) but of his general cheerful common sense. As a beater, he probably knew the woods and hedgerows of these farms better than anyone. But he never shot, himself.        

Rod also mentioned something else, his kindness. and this is echoed by everyone one who knew him. Nichola Hussey, who came to Stocks after us, found his kindness and reliability a great strength, whether it was helping with horses, or dogs or even children.  Rod says, and anyone who knew Ernie would agree, that he behaved always as though he didn’t think of himself. Rod also found him well read and interested and knowledgeable about many things.  Simon Martin also recalls his sense of fun. When doing his garden in Soberton, he used to call down the garden, ‘Tea, Ern?’ and invariable they would both crack up laughing about it.

Ernie retired from Stocks when my father died in 2002 and the farm was sold, but he continued to work part-time for those around him and with his son Richard, and of course continued beating. He spent a lot of time with his friend Ron Talman in Soberton, and Bruce Horn used to take him to Salisbury Market, which he greatly enjoyed.  Bruce was amused to find that the last time he had seen Stonehenge was on a school visit 50 years before, and had never seen the Fovant badges.

In 2007 he fell ill with leukemia, which meant that he had to have chemotherapy and thereafter, constant transfusions, but he never complained and bore his illness bravely. Even when weak, he still liked to go out as much as he could, walking the familiar fields and hedgerows, refusing a stick or a scooter. Sylvia said that he never admitted to being in pain, even at the end. He was well looked after by Dr Arnold in Winchester Hospital, and Dr Morris at home, as well as his carers Jenny and Jilly  - and of course always Sylvia who bore the brunt of his care.  But Ernie was a true kind ‘gentle man’ and in the best way, became part of that beautiful landscape, which will always contain him now, as after this service his family will spread his ashes on Old Winchester Hill. 

Herry Lawford
29th July 2014  

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Thursday, May 08, 2014

Wing-Commander Arthur Luxmoore 1909 - 1940

Wing-Commander Arthur Luxmoore

Arthur Noble Luxmoore ([1])
was born at Newton Abbott in Devon on the 24th of February 1909 the twin son of Major Lancelot Alfred Luxmoore, Royal Artillery and Charlotte Evelyn Constance Luxmoore of "The Roundel", Rye in Sussex. 

He was educated at Lancing College where he was in Heads House from September 1922 to July 1928. He was a member of the Cricket XI in 1927 and 1928 being Secretary in the latter year. He was a member of the Boxing team in 1925 and 1926 and the Athletics Team in 1927 and 1928. He gained his School Certificate in 1927 and was a Cadet Officer in the Officer Training Corps achieving Certificate A.

He went on to Hertford College, Oxford in 1928.

He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in the Royal Air Force on a short service commission on the 15th of August 1929 and was posted to the Royal Air Force Depot at Uxbridge. He was promoted to Flying Officer on the 14th of April 1931. 

On the 16th of June 1933 he was posted to No. 3 Armament Camp at Sutton Bridge and on the 30th of October 1933 he was posted to the Air Armaments School at Eastchurch. On the 15th of December 1933 he was posted to the Anti Aircraft Co-Operation Flight at Biggin Hill. 

On the 17th of December 1934 he was posted to 43 Squadron at Tangmere and on the 23rd of April 1935 he was posted to 25 Squadron at Hawkinge.

He was married to Annette Rosemary (nee Pugh) at the Church of St James theLess at Litchfield in 1935. They had a son, Fairfax, born on the 18th of July 1940. After his death she remarried Patrick Vincent Lawford in 1944.

Shortly after he was married he was posted to Egypt. He was promoted to Probationary Flight Lieutenant on the 15th of March 1935, a rank which was confirmed on the 1st of June 1936 when he was granted a permanent commission. On the 24th of February 1937 he was posted to the Electrical and Wireless School at RAF Cranwell. He was promoted to Squadron Leader on the 1st of August 1938 and was Commanding Officer of 144 Squadron at the time of his death.

W/C A.N. Luxmoore’s last air-raid mission May 11-12, 1940.

On the 11th of May 1940 37 aircraft from Bomber Command, being 19 Hampden and 18 Whitley bombers, were dispatched for an operation on Mönchengladbach to bomb road and rail links in the area in an attempt to impede the advance of the German forces which, on May 10,1940 had attacked and invaded the Low Countries. This was the first bombing raid on a German town of the war.

Arthur Luxmoore and his crew took off from RAF Hemswell at about 10.30pm on the 11th of May 1940 in Hampden MkB1, P1326 PL-? for the operation. 

Its crew consisted of
            Wing Commander Arthur Noble Luxmoore, Pilot
            Pilot Officer Robert Edward Allitt, 2nd Pilot/Bomb Aimer
            Sergeant Herbert Wathey
            Corporal Ronald Jolly

May 12, at about 00.30 ([2])  they were at 6,000 feet and approaching the target area when they were hit by flak (German anti-air guns) several times which caused severe damage to the starboard engine and to the rudder controls.

There is no doubt that Wing Commander Luxmoore was determined not to let his crew fall into enemy hands and had made up his mind to bring them back to France. ([3])
He managed to steer the stricken bomber in a south-westerly direction, slowly losing height.
An hour after being hit he ordered his crew to bail out and all three landed safely on friendly territory in Belgium, somewhere in the neighborhood of Hulsonniaux, commune of Houyet, Namur province.

Pilot Officer Allitt and  Sergeant Herbert Wathey at once got clear. At this moment Corporal Jolly was getting a fix from Le Bourget (France) and did not receive the order, as he was not at the intercommunication system. When he got through to the captain again he heard his voice saying: “have you jumped?” Quickly destroying the aircraft papers and leaving the transmitter key switched on, Corporal Jolly bailed out at a low altitude. (3)

In the meantime, the 22nd Divison of the French 9th Army had taken position as per May 11 on the left bank of the river Meuse from Hastière (Belgium) to Vireux-Molhain (south of Givet, France) with HQ located at Vaucelles (Belgium). ([4])

Making his way to the nearest village, P/O Allitt was at once challenged by a French soldier who held him up with his bayonet under the impression that he was a German parachutist and put him under arrest in the guard room. He explained that he was an English flying officer, but they were taking no chances until a French officer arrived and escorted him to his HQ at Vaucelles (Belgium).
Sergeant Wathey landed in a big tree down which he climbed with difficulty in the dark. Making his way laboriously, with many a stumble, through the undergrowth of the wood, he suddenly felt himself slipping and rolling downwards. When at last he came to a stop he found he was on the edge of water, so he wisely remained where he was until daylight. In the dawn he saw he was on the bank of a river (the Meuse), so he set off again to the west, falling in with two Belgian peasants whom he accompanied along the road. From time to time German aircraft flew over the road and machine-gunned them, but each time they managed to escape. After tramping for eight miles Sergeant Wathey was challenged by some French soldiers who promptly arrested him, having no doubt that he also was a German parachutist. Marching him to headquarters, they handed over their prisoner.
Corporal Jolly had the strangest experience of all. He landed on a steep slope, which happened to be the roof of a house, down which he slid. The lines of his parachute were entangled somewhere above and as he tried to make his way forward he felt something give and break at every step he took. Floundering along in the dark, he could not understand where he was or what was happening and at length he came to the conclusion that he was walking on ice. Not until he fell a few feet did he realize that he had walked the whole length of the roof of a greenhouse! He banged on the door of the house. There was no answer. Then he walked into the village where some people, as soon as they saw him, shouted “Boche!" and bolted for their lives. At last he induced the village constable to take him in charge, and eventually all three of the crew met as prisoners at headquarters about fifteen miles away. Here they were properly identified and released, to be entertained most lavishly with wine, when it was food they needed. They will not soon forget the French General kissing them on both cheeks as he bade them adieu before they drove off in a British staff car to the nearest Royal Air Force aerodrome, at Reims (France), where they were looked after until an aircraft arrived from their base to pick them up next day. ([5])

W/C Luxmoore remained at the controls of his aircraft so that a crash in the village of Finnevaux, 11 kilometers south, south of Dinant in Belgium, could be avoided.

When his aircraft hit the ground in a meadow close to the road from Houyet (Belgium) to Givet (France), only 360 yards from the houses in Finnevaux, it exploded and took fire causing the death of the Wing Commander. His badly burned body was buried in the communal cemetery of Finnevaux,

Finally it should be mentioned that the family was per September 11, 1940 still unaware of the Wing Commander’s death and hoping that he might also have bailed out and made prisoner. ([6

It is only shortly after the liberation of Belgium, early September 1944, that the family was informed of the W/C’ s burial place and decided to leave his grave as it was (in Finnevaux), where it would be looked after by the War Graves Commission, and not to move it to a “War Cemetery” ([7])

His grave in Finnevaux is maintained by a grateful commune, under the supervision of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the commune has honored his name on the War Memorial in the center of Finnevaux.

Sadly enough the heroic attitude of W/C Arthur Noble was never officially recognized by UK authorities and no medal was awarded, while both Jolly and Wathey were awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal and Allitt was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross; all these men were subsequently killed in action on the 13th of June 1940, the 12th of February 1942 and the 23rd of February 1944 respectively. ([8])

([1]) Source : Lancing College War Memorial
([2]) Source : letter from P/O Allitt to Mrs. A.Luxmoore
"Dear Mrs Luxmoore, 
Your address, through Wing Commander Jordan, has just reached me or I should have written sooner. I think he has already told you that I was with your husband last week. Although I can tell you little more than you already know, I thought you might like to hear from me as I was in his aircraft. We took off at about 10.30pm on Saturday and, when over Germany about two hours later the aircraft was hit and badly crippled. Fortunately none of us were hurt. Thanks to the magnificent piloting of the Wing Commander we managed to reach friendly territory in Belgium, where he ordered us to abandon the aircraft by parachute. He of course was the last to leave. Throughout he was apparently unperturbed, and I feel that there is every chance that we may yet hear from him. Only flying people can appreciate to the full his superb handling of the almost completely disabled aircraft. The rest of us owe our lives to him, and could not express in words our admiration and gratitude. This was our eighth raid together and I shall miss his leadership and comradeship terribly. I do hope you will accept my sincere sympathy in your great anxiety. If there is anything I can do to help please let me know.”
()[3] Source : Extract of the book “So Few” by David Masters (published 1999)
([4]) Source :’infanterie_(France)#Bataille_de_France
([5]) Source : Extract of the book “So Few” by David Masters (published 1999)
([6]) Source : following letter by the W/C’s father, Lancelot Luxmoore, dated September 11, 1940
Prisoners of War,
Foreign Office,
Dear Sirs,
I understand that there is now a regular procedure for making enquiries at the American Embassy in Berlin regarding prisoners of war in Germany and enemy occupied countries.
I should be much obliged if you would make an enquiry of this sort concerning acting Wing. Comm. ARTHUR NOBLE LUXMOORE B.A.F. No, 86112, who was reported missing on May 12th. The facts so far as I have been able to ascertain them are that he was returning from bombing operations somewhere in enemy territory in a Hampden Bomber No. P.1326; one engine of the bomber was out of action and after losing height three of the crew landed unhurt by parachute and were near enough to friendly country to get back, one walking about eight miles before meeting French troops with the numerals 62 or 9 who took him to the H.Q. of the 9th French army.
This took place at approximately 1.20 a.m. in the neighborhood of a village called HOUYET, east of DINANT, ARDENNES. Wing. Comm. A.N. Luxmoore remained in the plane and it is believed that he would have made a similar landing himself.
The enemy were advancing at the time and I wish to ascertain whether he was taken prisoner and is still alive and whether the American Embassy can obtain any information about him from the enemy.
In the case of any information becoming available would you please communicate with me at the above address.
I have tabulated the facts on a separate sheet for your convenience.
Yours faithfully,

([7]) Source : letter from the W/C’s father, L.Luxmoore, to Mrs. A.Luxmoore, the W/C’s wife
([8]) Source : Lancing College War Memorial

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lawford Lunch at the Drapers' Hall 2014

The Lawfords at Drapers' Hall 2014 Click to enlarge. For names, see below

A fine lunch was arranged at the Drapers' Hall on 28th April 2014 for 30 descendants of Samuel Lawford (1739 - 1835).

Penny Fussell, the Archivist, gave a talk on the Company and a tour of the Hall. Jeremy Lawford talked about the Lawford family history and Nigel Lawford about the family's long links with the Drapers' Company, beginning in with Valentine Lawford, who was Master in 1775.

Herry brought along a portrait of Edward Lawford, who worked at the Drapers' Hall for over 50 years as Clerk and Solicitor to the East India Company.

Edward Lawford 1787 - 1864)
Around that time the family members of the Company included four lawyers, two bankers and two stockbrokers and it continued to provide many members of the Company (at one time 26) for the next hundred years or so. See also The Drapers' Livery Company here 

Jeremy Lawford gave a fine overview of the family's known history beginning with Robert Lawford of Co. Warwick, Gent and laying to rest the epithet most often associated with Edward Lawford (above). He has published a number of detailed papers on different aspects of the family's history. See also Lawford Family History here

Those attending the lunch are shown in the photo above:

The cousins assembled - L to R:         
Sylvia Colbeck (Nigel's sister)
Nigel Lawford
Mark Lawford (Nigel's son)
Louise Lawford (Mark’s wife)
Philip Lawford
Simon Martyn
Roshni Russell
Fiona Waugh
Marcus Price (Nigel's nephew)
Mary Findlater
Simon Colbeck (Sylvia’s husband)
Patrick Findlater
Paula Lawford
Jeremy Lawford
Giles Russell                                         
Paddy Cottam                                                      
Anne Lawford                                                     
Mike Lawford                                                            
Richard Maxwell-Lawford                                   
Mary Maxwell-Lawford                                                                      
Piers Lawford                                                       
Helena Maxwell-Lawford                                               
Vincent Lawford                                                                                                                                               Nicholas Maxwell-Lawford                                          
Dierdre Quinn                                                                        
Herry Lawford                                                      
Margaret Lawford                                                   
Rosie Findlater (hidden)
Missing: Andrew Lawford

Charles Tilbury                                                 

The lunch coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Golden Wedding of my grandparents, Capt VA Lawford and his wife Jane

Grandparents' Golden Wedding at Quickley June 1953 
Back row: Denys, Valentine, Vincent, Paddy Cottam, Adrian, Patrick, Jeremy. Sitting: Daphne, Sylvia Findlater, Grandfather Vincent, Grandmother Jane, Peggy, Annette. In Front: Piers, Herry, Michael, John Findlater, Patrick Findlater, Fuff (Luxmoore). Quentin and Mary Findlater were both absent
The photo below is of the family who attended from that event

Back row: Piers, Michael, Vincent, Jeremy and Herry
Seated: Mary Findlater, Paddy Cottam and Patrick Findlater
(John Findlater was not well enough to attend)

Additional photos of the lunch can be seen here.