Harold Gill (1919-2003): Home & Family

Harold Gill explains in his memoir that his home life and family were very important to him. The very beginning of his memoir he explains that it was his sister, Alice,  that encouraged him to write about his experiences. Like many other life experiences and memoirs Gill dedicates the start of his story by explaining about his home life and his childhood.

He begins by stating that he was born on the 17th May, 1919 and that his father had served throughout the First World War. He notes that his father had seven children to his mother and a further three children from a previous marriage, however these children all died in infancy. Explaining that he had many brothers and sisters allows it to be noticed that his family was very important to him. ‘Christmas was a time of austerity and restrictions as a natural sequel to the hazards of winter. Santa Clause, if he existed, ran out of presents by the time he reached Catherine Street’, (Page 3, Section 1) this statement from  Gill shows us that although he appeared to have a happy childhood he would not receive many, if any presents at Christmas , simply because his family did not have the money to afford these presents. Although Harold Gill’s family was a large family therefore poor he explains that ‘The happy days of childhood passed in a haze of sunny days or so it seemed,. the rainy days went by unnoticed, probably because these were the days of inactivity and were not lived in game or outside pursuits like the rest.’ (Page 11, Section 1) Gill appears to be very aware of the fact that as his family grew so did the demands on his mother’s purse however this does not seem to affect his childhood and instead he simply remembers that clothes would be handed down and altered however this did not affect his home and family life.

There is a significant amount of focus on family life within childhood than there is in Gill’s adulthood, as he is a P.O.W and therefore does not have experiences with his family but instead talks about missing his mother whilst he is held captive.

As a large family Gill and his siblings appear to be very close in age as Gill casually mentions memories in which he shared with his siblings. These memories allow us to see how Harold would spend time with his brothers Vin and Fredimg104 img105and therefore recalls these occasions. Harold Gill talks about his family and home life in relation to his childhood, this is significant as it allows us to notice that he has many siblings, some of which he mentions by name which allows us to continue our research in relation to finding Military, Marriage, Birth and Death  Records of him and his family members. The documents we have included are the only documents that we could find in relation to Gill’s family life as the omission of his parents names and of a possible marriage does not allow us much information when researching.

One aspect of family life that is spoken fondly within his memoir is school. Gill recalls his school days which he appears to have enjoyed. Although there is nothing specific that appears to be omitted we suggested that certain aspects of his childhood could have been intentionally missed out. For example we are not told of any disagreements or confrontation as a child. It is typical for siblings to have disagreements however there is none mentioned within the memoir. This could be due the fact that Gill believes that these disagreements are nothing other than childish or it could be due to the fact that he wants the reader to be told all about his childhood but Gill also wants to ensure that his childhood appears to be that of a happy one. There is no mention of Gill’s home and family life as he is writing this memoir instead he recalls memories therefore whilst trying to research on Ancestry it has been a very difficult task as although we are told some of his siblings names we are not told of any children that he may have had or of a marriage. We are also unaware of his parents’ names therefore although we have attempted to get any documents completely accurate; the omission of his parents’ names, wife’s name and any children’s names has made our research very difficult.

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We have also included a poem that Gill chose to include in his memoir about his family, mainly his mother and his feelings towards her. Not only does he choose to write poems about his mother but he ends his memoir by describing his reunion with his mother. ‘My reunion with my beloved, and most loving mother in the next few minutes of that memorable day’. (Page 45 Section 2) We can see from this that Harold Gill had a very close relationship with his mother and therefore we have decided to include one of the poems that he writes about her in our blog.

Poem included in Gill's memoir about his mother
Poem included in Gill’s memoir about his mother

By Joanne Gibson and Alexandra Meadwell

References: Gill, Harold, Untitled, TS, pp.66 (c. 31,000 words). Brunel University Library, July 1987.

Pictures: http://search.ancestry.co.uk/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=onsbirth84&so=2&pcat=ROOT_CATEGORY&rank=1&new=1&MSAV=0&msT=1&gss=angs-g&gsfn=Harold&gsln=Gill&mswpn__ftp=fylde&msbdy=1919&msmns0=green&sbo=0&uidh=el5

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