Saturday, 11 January 2014

#52 Ancestors: #1 - Cyril Francis Prince 1920 - 1991

This is the first of 52 blogs this year, one a week, that will be about an ancestor of mine or my husbands. A lady called Amy Crow, from set a challenge to blog about one ancestor a week for a year, and quite a few people around the world have accepted the challenge, including me.

The person I'm going to start this challenge off with is my maternal grandfather, who was a wonderful man and loved by all who knew him.
Cyril Prince 1942
Cyril Francis Prince was born on Sunday 13th July 1920, at 44 Bridge Road, Northam, Southampton, Hampshire, England, to parents William Charles Prince and Annie Frances nee Cox. He was their 2nd child, his brother, Charles William Prince being 2 years older than him.
He was baptized at St James (Docks) Southampton on 22nd August 1920. The record states that his father was a seaman and the family were still living at 44 Bridge Road.
He grew up in the Chapel/St Mary's area of Southampton, with his dad often away at sea. When Cyril was 4, his dad dropped his brother at school one day, then disappeared from their lives. A year later his mum Annie met another man, George Richard Wight, and in May 1926, Annie and George had the first of 5 children.
At the start of WW2, Cyril joined the Royal Air Force and was stationed at a base at Little Rissington in the Cotswolds. It was a training school for airmen as well as a maintenance unit, and Cyril's job was as part of the maintenance crew who fixed all the aircraft, so our airmen could go back out to fight.
One day, Cyril was on the bus to the market, when he met a beautiful young woman called Joan Coombes. Her father Walter ran a pub, The New Inn, in a nearby village called Nether Westcote. A lot of the men from the base went to the pub, as it was the nearest to the base.
Joan and Cyril courted throughout the rest of the war, then in 1945 Cyril was set to be posted to Singapore, so they got a special licence and married on Saturday 18th August 1945. Then suddenly, wonderfully, the war ended and Joan soon found out she was pregnant. She had a number of problems throughout the pregnancy which ended more than 2 months prematurely, when she haemorrhaged badly and nearly died, along with the baby. Collin was born in the pub, but they were both rushed to the hospital and treated, and survived. The following year, the young family moved back to Cyril's hometown of Southampton, Hampshire and were housed by the council in a pre-fab in Sholing, until the council houses had finished being built. By the time they were given a 3 bed roomed council house in Bitterne, Joan & Cyril also had a little girl, Ann (my mum) and in 1950 they had another little girl, Janet. In 1952, Joan became pregnant again, but like with Collin, she had terrible problems which ended with a premature birth and another haemorrhage, but this time the baby boy died.
Me, Nan & Gramps 1977
Cyril found a job in security, working for the council in the museums and council buildings around Southampton. With an interest in the city's history, he soon learnt all he could from the different museums and became a guide as well as a security officer.
Me & Gramps 1980
In 1972, aged 51, Cyril became a grandfather for the first time, when Collin and his wife had a baby girl. The following year I was born and Collin had a son around 1979. As Collin and his wife had moved out to New Zealand with their daughter in 1974, and very rarely came back to the UK, I got to spend a lot of time with my grandparents, especially as my parents ran a pub and needed someone to look after me on weekends. I got my love of history from Gramps as well as my love of books.
Joan & Cyril Prince, December 1987
In the early 80's he developed stomach cancer and it took a long time for him to be clear from it, and he had several stomach problems after. As an adult he was a small man, barely 5ft 6in and always very slim built. We've recently found out my mu has coaeliac disease, and it's most probable that's what was wrong with Gramps as well. After Nan died in November 1988, he gave up on life, they were absolute soul mates, perfectly made for each other and couldn't live without each other. Nan was only 64 and had a sudden stroke that took her right away and it's something that Gramps, Mum, Aunty Jan and I never got over. Gramps just seemed to waste away, and the cancer came back with a real force, this time it couldn't be stopped. But just as he was diagnosed and given 3 months to live, I found out I was pregnant, and he determined to hold on to see the baby. My son was born on Wednesday 13th February 1991, we went to see Gramps on Sunday 17th, by which time he didn't recognise anyone in the family, but he knew who I was and that I had his first great grandchild. We spent about an hour with him before he was too tired, and when we got home the hospice called to say he'd slipped into a coma. He died on Thursday 21st February 1991, just 8 days after my son was born, but he'd kept his promise and stayed to see my baby, so he could tell Nan all about him.
Gramps and my son 17th |Feb 1991

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