Uncle Percy, Aunt Madge, cousins and step-cousins
We have mentioned before that Lorna had two Uncle Percies on her father Albert’s side of the family. One was Albert’s youngest brother; the other the widower of Albert’s elder sister Beatrice (Cissy).
On January 29th 1940 Lorna wrote in her journal of her fears for each Percy should the Germans invade Britain. The former (Uncle Percy L) would be ’shot or imprisoned according to the degrees of danger to the state’; the latter (Uncle Percy W) ‘put in a concentration camp’.
This photograph from the mid-1930s is of Uncle Percy W (second from the right) with all his children and his second wife Madge (second from the left - and who, according to Lorna, would be spared by the Germans because she had no qualifications outside the home). The three older children in the picture are Percy's children with Lorna’s Aunt Beatrice, and are thus Lorna’s first cousins:
Margaret, 4th from the left, born 1906
Miriam, 3rd from the left, born 1907
George, far right, born 1911 - as a boy he teased Lorna as ‘Mrs Pudgy’
(In 1905 Percy and Beatrice also had a son called Olaf, but sadly he only lived for a couple of months.)
One evening in late 1911, the mother of these children (Lorna’s Aunt Beatrice) complained to one of the maids that she felt faint. The maid fetched some brandy and administered a little to her mistress. Beatrice then lay back down on her bed and died. This death, at the age of 30, was put down to an undetected 'weak heart', and incomplete recovery from pregnancy. This family tragedy probably influenced Lorna’s parents’ decision to give Lorna the middle name of Beatrice when she was born just over two years later in early 1914.
Beatrice’s death left Uncle Percy - at the time preparing for ordination in the Church of England - to cope with three small children, one of whom was a six month old baby. In the first instance George was sent away to live with his maternal grandparents (Lorna’s paternal grandparents), and there was some talk of adoption within the wider family for at least one of the daughters. In the end, on the recommendation of a friend, Percy appointed a young artist (speciality wood carving) to take on his household and all three children. This was a great success: the children adored Madge. Percy too fell in love with her, they were married within a year, and the children called her 'Mother'.
Uncle Percy and Madge then had four children: Rupert (3rd from right), Dawn (middle), Stella (far left) and Dennis (4th from right). They are best described as Lorna’s step-cousins. Two will feature again later in Lorna’s story: Dawn worked as a nurse during the war having trained at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham; and Dennis joined the RAF as a pilot.