November 2012 Edition 92 Jerrems Family Newsletter
Looking Forward to Looking Back
Dear Donald,
Ray takes us to a new Jerrems branch and continent.

Enjoy the reading and your Thanksgiving holiday.

Pictured in heading: Cape Town-Table Mountain

Ray Jerrems, Our Genealogist, Historian    
Readers may recall that I concluded my article in the June 2012 edition of the Jerrems Journal with the promise that: "In a later article I will continue my account of the family in South Africa". "The family" was the Fitz-Patrick family, which began its connection with the Jerrems family when Ada Sarah Jerrems married Reverend Bernard Gowran Fitzpatrick in England in 1873 and they had nine children.

In due course their descendants spread themselves across South Africa, Swaziland, Rhodesia, Malawi, Mozambique, England, Holland, Australia and New Zealand, making them by far the most travelled part of the Jerrems family.

The family has some interesting characters which set them apart from other Jerrems descendants, notably recipients of a Member of the British Empire (MBE), an Officer of the British Empire (OBE), and a Military Cross.

Two of Ada's sons served in the First World War (Herbert in German East Africa and France; Aubrey died of wounds in France), one son (Bernard) served in the Anglo-Boer war and three of her grandchildren (Ivor, Trevor and Doreen) served in the Second World War. (I will include them in a later Journal).

Sybil Sevier Bergne-Coupland MBE
Ada's granddaughter Sybil (1904-1974) was the daughter of Winifred Constance Michell (nee Fitz-Patrick).

Born in Durban, South Africa, Sybil and her parents moved around a lot (India, Egypt, Gibraltar) as her father worked for the Eastern Telegraph Company. Eventually, they settled in England, where in due course she married Charles Berne-Coupland in 1936. In June 1945 Sybil was awarded the prestigious MBE (Member of the British Empire) for her service as the County Borough Organiser of the Women's Voluntary Services for Civil Defence in Belfast.

The reference to Sybil serving in the Women's Voluntary Service led me to research the subject. The result was nothing short of amazing!

The Women's Voluntary Services for Civil Defence

The Women's Voluntary Service for Air Raid Precautions (as it was originally known) was founded in 1938.

When war was declared in September 1939, the WVS had 165,000 members drawn from groups unable to 'join up' or wanted for essential war work. These were the elderly, the young, the housebound, or those with dependants. The work quickly diversified and the organisation soon changed its name to the "Women's Voluntary Service for Civil Defence".

By 1941 air raids were a reality in Swansea, Liverpool, Cardiff, London, Belfast and other major cities. The WVS organised rest centres for those left homeless after a raid. Countless thousands of meals were served, washing facilities organised and clothing issued. Astoundingly, at the end of 1941 the WVS enrolled its millionth member.

Meanwhile, Belfast was bombed in April and May 1941 because it was a major ship building port in Northern Ireland. There were three major raids, on 7th of April, the night of Easter Tuesday, 15th April and the 4th of May. Two hundred bombers of the German Air Force attacked the city. Some 900 people died as a result of the bombing in the second raid and 1,500 were injured. In terms of property damage, half of the houses in Belfast were damaged or destroyed. Outside of the city of London, this was the greatest loss of life in a night raid during blitz. The second highest casualty raid was on the night of Sunday 4 May 1941 when 150 were killed.

On one of the raids the main water supply installation was bombed, and then incendiaries were dropped on the housing areas, where the fires could not be stopped.

Herbert Daniel Gowran Fitz-Patrick
One estimate is that two hundred and twenty thousand terrified people fled from the city. They fled as far away as Coleraine, 90km to the north west, where the WVS Organiser was Mrs Florence Shaw (also awarded the MBE). Mrs Shaw's daughter's later recollections for the BBC included:

My final memory of things done by the WVS was after the two big Air Raids in Belfast. Many lorry loads of hungry, dirty, injured and frightened men, women and children arrived to be cared for and fed. The Irish Society Schools were temporarily 'taken over' and the WVS moved in to prepare camp beds and meals for the 'refugees' from the City of Belfast until they could safely return to their homes or go to relatives or be billeted locally.

Curiously, the May 1941 raid was the last raid on Belfast. It has been conjectured that this was the result of an outcry from the Republic of Ireland (a neutral State) about the attack on their fellow Irish, leading Hitler to fear that the Irish Republic might join the Allies if he continued the bombing.

The WVS of course was not aware that there would be no more bombing and would have continued to train for air raids. However its Belfast members (which could have numbered up to 10,000 in number in a city with a population of about 350,000) were kept busy with the following (a) Looking after families who had lost relatives killed during the Belfast Blitz, or who had relatives injured (b) Accommodating people who had lost their houses or their houses were damaged, and providing them with food, clothing and furniture (c) Providing services to the defence forces garrisoned around the city, to the crews of visiting warships, to factory workers, and to their families (d) Providing services to the staff of remote installations like radar and coastwatching stations (e) Assisting with food rationing (f) Distributing "Baby Bundles", received from the US, to young mothers (g) As D-Day approached in mid 1944, carrying out the monumental task of welcoming and providing services to the tens of thousands of US and Canadian troops who landed at Belfast en route to camps where they waited for the call for the D-Day embarkation.

Members of the WVS received many awards for gallantry, including two British Empire Medals, five George Medals and seventy-eight Empire Awards (including Sybil). Sadly, 241 members had died whilst on duty.

Sybil must have been a prodigious worker and her award would have been well deserved. Two years after her death in 1974, her husband, Charles Lionel Bergne-Coupland, married her sister, Pamela.

Herbert Daniel Gowran Fitz-Patrick OBE
Born in 1909, "Dan" was the son of Herbert Arthur Lionel Fitz-Patrick, a son of Ada. He became a popular and highly respected member of his community and served his country with distinction.

The Times of Swaziland, Wednesday, July 28 1982 reported as follows: 'Malamba' dies, aged 73 Mr. Herbert Daniel Fitzpatrick, popularly known as "Malamba," died of a heart attack at the Mbabane Clinic yesterday afternoon.

Mr. Fitzpatrick, who was well known as owner of several shops called "KaMalamba" in the Shiselweni District, was aged 73 years.

A former senator in the Swaziland Parliament, Mr. Fitzpatrick was born in 1909 and educated at St. Mark's School in Mbabane. He joined the Swaziland government in 1928 and in 1944 was appointed a district officer. He was seconded to Palestine from 1947 to 1948. He returned to Swaziland as district officer in charge of rural development. When he retired in 1956, he was Secretary for African Affairs. He was a member of the European Advisory Council and of the Constitutional Committee. He was elected to the Legislative council in 1964, and appointed Executive Council Member for Works, Power and Telecommunications. In 1967, Mr. Fitzpatrick was appointed a member of the Senate.

Not mentioned in the article was the fact that he had been awarded the OBE (Officer of the British Empire).

Dan's daughter Dianne has told me that the award which Dan was most proud of was that of the Royal Order of Sobhuza II - Chief Counsellor, the highest award of the 1981 Jubilee Honours. King Sobhuza II was the king of Swaziland at the time.

The announcement was made over the radio and Dan only caught the end - "Malamba". At the time, there was an important chief in the north of the country also known as "Malamba" so Dan wasn't sure which Malamba the radio referred to. So he took his grandchildren to the nearby ice cream parlour hoping that someone there might mention the report. No one did so he had to wait until the next day to read the newspaper.

Ivor Gowran Fitz-Patrick MC
In recent years, several of the South African Jerrems descendants have moved to Australia but the first one was Ada's grandson Ivor Gowran Fitz-Patrick (1923-1983). Monty's son (Harold Percy Montague Fitz-Patrick), Ivor moved from South Africa to Victoria, Australia, in about 1960.

Ivor was unique in the Jerrems family annals because he was awarded the Military Cross, as notified in the London Gazette of 10th May 1945. The notice referred to his position as "South African Forces (attch 9th Queen's Royal Lancers, Royal Armoured Corps)".

The Military Cross was a bravery award made to officers; lower ranks (like my grandfather) received the Military Medal.

The 9th Queen's Royal Lancers

Ivor was attached to the British 9th Queen's Royal Lancers, a Regiment with a proud history dating back to 1715. A member won the first Victoria Cross early in the First World War.

In the Second World War the Lancers were an armoured regiment equipped with tanks. The Lancers served with distinction in defence against Rommel, and later in his defeat at El Alamein. It was at about this stage that Ivor joined the Lancers, having been seconded from the 6th South African Armoured Division. After the victory at El Alamein the Lancers pushed forward, meeting up with American forces in Tunisia.

Their marksmanship was renowned. Their best shot was Corporal Nicholls of B Squadron who was once personally congratulated by General Montgomery for knocking out nine enemy tanks in one day.

The Lancers were present when the King inspected the troops in North Africa. After serving in Tunisia they joined the allied armies in the invasion of Italy in 1944. This was a campaign which Australians hear little about, but large British and American forces (plus Indian and Canadian troops) were deployed against stubborn German resistance, with the allied forces fighting in parallel with the forces fighting in France after D-Day.

Ivor's MC citation refers to his service in Italy at "Monte Cassino, Anzio, Salerno, San Marino, etc".

In September 1944 the Lancers saw action at San Savino in northern Italy in the battle for the heavily fortified "Gothic Line". This Line formed the German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring's last major line of defense along the summits of the Apennines Range during the dogged retreat of the German forces.

The Lancers formed the spearhead of the 8th Army in the breakthrough to the River Po in the Spring of 1945. B Squadron was the first to enter Venice at the end of April 1945.

As mentioned previously, Ivor, a courageous soldier, later migrated to Australia.

Thanks to Alan Fitz-Patrick and his distant cousin Dianne for the information in this article.

It is interesting to see that the genealogical line starting with Big Bill's son John has proved so fertile. With the Jerrems Journal in its 8th year it looks as though we will be around with monthly Newsletters for a while yet!

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