My grandparents would always tell me the tragic story of a cousin who had lost his family during The Blitz.
When I was growing up, I had known him only as “Cousin Joe”. I had been told he was in the Navy and had come home on leave, only to discover his entire family had been killed in a bombing raid.
Granddad would tell me, Joe would often visit his old house. Tragically the house had remained standing but his family (his wife and four children) had been killed, while sleeping in the bomb shelter out the back. My grandmother had once given a graphic description of one of his daughter’s limbs being found miles away. Gruesome I know but I think we sometimes need to face the horror and remember the awful reality of war.
From what my grandparents said Joe had never forgiven himself, as he had made his family promise to use the shelter.
After many years of research, I finally worked out who granddad’s cousin Joe was. I had found the address from somewhere. I googled it and yes, to this day the house remains standing. I often wonder if they still know its tragic history these days. Mum says they probably wouldn’t want to know.
Google is amazing. I had entered the address and found a WW2 noticeboard where a guy was talking about the house. His parents had lived there shortly after the tragic events and had spoken about “Cousin Joe”(They had not known his name.) hanging around outside their gate, looking broken-hearted. I had joined the forum and told them more of the story. I knew Joe had eventually remarried and had a child but I had no details.
To my amazement some time later Joe’s daughter turned up on the forum also. I had a very quick chat with her. I put up a picture, which I had been told was of her father as a child but she did not seem to believe it was him. My mum had told me it was cousiñ Joe and his family. Weird the way the memory works because I later had flashbacks of my grandfather showing me the picture and telling me it was his cousin Joe, who had lost his family.
I desperately wanted her to have the picture so I did some detective work and discovered his daughter’s address overseas and had sent it to her, in case she actually realises one day that it is him. I never heard any more, so she probably thought I was some weird cyber stalker.
Nevertheless she had filled me in on a little more of the story during our brief chat online. Apparently cousin Joe had never fully recovered and on top of everything he had also lost his second wife quite young too. His daughter has however had a very successful career. I still google her occasionally and hope that perhaps one day she may get in touch again.