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Madame Butterfly

by derbycsv

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Archive List > Family Life

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People in story: 
Christopher Robin Gottschald, Paul Werner Gottschald, Dorothy June Gottschald (Elliott)
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Contributed on: 
03 October 2005

This story has been submitted by Alison Tebbutt, Derby CSV Action Desk on behalf of Christopher Gottschald. The author has given his permission and fully understands the site's terms and conditions

This is the story of how my parents met. My father, Paul Werner Gottschald, was born in Meissen, Germany, in 1920. He was apprenticed to a watchmaker and was a keen member of the sea scouts. When the scouting movements were taken over by the Hitler Youth, he was asked to swear allegiance to the Fuhrer, which he refused to do. A friend of the family arranged for him to be called up for the Navy to save him from a Hitler Youth Tribunal.

During the war he had been a rangefinder on the Scharnhorst, but later was serving on an armed merchantman and had attainted a rank equivalent to Chief Petty Officer. This ship was sunk and my father was brought to England as a prisoner of war.

Whilst he was in a P.O.W. camp near Ollerton, Nottinghamshire, he would repair watches for the English soldiers and got paid for the work. The camp commandant was a collector of antique watches, so he did quite well out of the work.

He bought a bicycle with the money and kept it hidden in the bushes outside the camp, having provided himself with a hole in the fence. The bicycle was used for trips to the theatre in Nottingham. After one trip to see Madame Butterfly at the Theatre Royal, he decided to go for a coffee before returning to the camp. My mother, Dorothy June Elliott at that time, was managing the coffee bar where he went. They were married in November 1947 and my father spent the rest of his life in this country. He opened his own watchmakers shop in Nottingham after working three years as a face worker in a coal mine to raise the money to get started.

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