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Swallows in Algiers

by threecountiesaction

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Archive List > Family Life

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Ann Liverton, C.P.O Ted Jones. Mrs Molly Jones
Location of story: 
Barnstable North Devon and Algeria North Africa
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
08 December 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War Site by Robin Payne for Three Counties Action, on behalf of Ann Liverton, and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

This is not my personal story but that of my parents, both now sadly deceased. The story is not one of those of heroics but one of romance. My father Ted Jones was serving in the Royal Navy as a Chief Petty Officer Writer. He had taken part in the invasion of North Africa and was based in Algiers where amongst other duties he acted as an interpreter, being a fluent French speaker.

All in all he was in North Africa for three years. My Mother was living at her parents’ home in Barnstable, Devon. She was involved in fire watching and told me that when on a high hill just outside of Barnstable she could see a light in the sky that was Exeter burning after a bombing raid.

As all separated couples did then they had no means of communication except by letter and these were frequent. In one letter in early autumn my Mother described the cooling of the days, the drawing in of the nights and wrote that the swallows were gathering on the telegraph wires ready to leave. She wrote that she hoped some may make it to Africa and take her love to Ted. When my father opened the letter, he read it standing in the sunshine of North Africa and looking up, became aware that the new birds arriving at that moment were swallows.

A silly little tale but my parents never forgot it and felt that the swallows had indeed taken a massage of love between the two of them.

An amusing addition to their story. They were together for V.E Day. My father said it was the only time he managed to get my mother a little tipsy. I was born the following February; A true V.E celebration.

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