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15 October 2014
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Love from England to South Africa

by wittys

Contributed by 
People in story: 
My Nan wonderful trip to find love
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
05 November 2003

I am writing this story on behalf of my beloved Grampy and Nan who sadly are not here today and if it was not for war we would not be here. My Nan (Jane Saunders nee Griffiths) was born in Paarl,South Africa in 1924, she was the fifth of seven children. She had a wonderful childhood growing up in her beloved South Africa, her father was a sergeant in the police force and her mother was a "housewife". She used to buy the "Stand Easy" Magazine, which asked their readers to write to the soldiers serving in the 2nd world war, she started writing to two of them. Sadly when she was in her late teens her mother died of cancer and not long after her father also died, she always said this was of a broken heart. It was a very sad time for them all, three of the older ones were married and the two youngest were still at school. As my Nan was working as a bookkeeper for a Mr Arnold it was decided that her older sister Hannah would look after the house doing the cooking, housework etc. Anyway this didn't work out satisfactorily so it was decided that the two younger ones would live with the two married sisters, Hannah with a cousin of theirs and Nan would live with her older brother and his wife, again this wasn't satisfactory so Nan found herself lodgings locally. As you can imagine with the grief of losing her parents and not having a family home she was very unhappy. She was still writing to her "pen pals" and one of them a young soldier called Davie Saunders who was serving in Egypt in the Army had tried to support her through his letters when her parents died but now was getting quite romantic in his letters and sent her an engagement ring,they had never met and spoken
only once on the phone and suddenly he had proposed. When the war was over,my Nan decided that she wanted to start her life again in England as she was so sad in South Africa without her Mummy and Daddy and all her family apart. In the meantime her elder sister knew of a soldier coming to England and asked if he would call on my Grampy's family to make sure they were okay, he reported back that they were a lovely family, very Christian and that they would look after their beloved Jane. Grampy sent Nan the money for her ticket and so in June 1948 my Nan left her beloved South Africa on the "Cape Town Castle", she was two weeks on the liner and what a ball she had on that journey. My grandfather met her at Southampton which was the very first time thay had met. He took her to his parent's home in Great Somerford, Wiltshire and they married six weeks later on the 2nd August in Malmesbury Methodist Church. They led a happy life, although a hard one as it was a struggle at
times with finances. Their first home was a flat in the village pub and then when their first child William (Ronnie) was born a year after they
married they moved into a house that was newly built in Great Somerford and then went on to have two other children, Jennifer and Charles. I came along in 1969 and lived with my Mum, Nan, Grandfather and my two uncles. Sadly my Grandfather died in 1972 at a relatively young age and he had so wanted to take my Nan back to South Africa and also wanted so much to meet her family but he never had the opportunity to do so, although Nan's younger brother and his wife had visited in 1971 six months before my Grampy died and that was the first time Nan had seen any of her family since the day she left in 1948 although they all kept in touch by letter (as they were the days before many people had the telephone) until the day they died. My Nan finally went back for the first time to South Africa in 1980 to visit her family, wow what a time she had but sadly they were not all together as one of her sisters had passed away. There is just one surviving sister now living in Cape Town, and numerous cousins who we do have regular contact with and go and see them when we can. My Nan left her home country in 1948 leaving two brothers and five sisters behind who she loved so very much but speaking to her before she died she said she had no regrets leaving, she loved her life in England, her children and grandchildren meant everything to her but her heart would always be for South Africa.

My Nan had a real twinkle in her eye until the day she died, she loved music, to dance and had so wanted to be on the stage but her parents had
forbidden it, she was always a lot of fun to be with even in her elderly years, there was always laughter. She had been so very unhappy when her
childhood family had been broken apart and she so wanted her own family so you can imagine how happy she was marrying my Grampy, having their firsthome together and then their first baby. My Grandparents may not have been rich financially but love was always plentiful.

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