Back to the Big Pond
Northern Ireland, mainly Belfast
In memory of Margaret Douglas, August 1st., 1919 to December 7th., 2002.
Peggy, Pidge, Margaret, Mum, whatever she was called, was a Spiritualist, faith healer, wife and mother.
She was the young woman who became Mrs Raymond Dickins when she married Dad in Belfast, May 28th., 1941,
after meeting him late November, early December, 1940, when both were 21.
Venus and Jupiter appeared to glide right past each other earlier this month, June 2002.
In a slow day-by-day march, Jupiter sank into the sunset horizon while Venus remained high and bright.
The conjunction ended the five-planet party visible over the last two months.
Jupiter, of course, is much further away from the Earth and Sun than Venus,
so the passing was really just an angular illusion. Pictured above on June 3,
a fading sunset finds Venus shining over Jupiter above clouds, mountains,
and the city lights of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Credit: Peter Paice
The scans below are taken from
a photograph dated about 1916, when Robert James turned twenty-one.
That's the likelihood of the reason for existence of this large, old sepia-toned photograph on cardboard.
I shall have to have it restored: it is in poor condition, as can be seen from the cracks that show
up very clearly. There is an odd sheen to it, that the scanner notices in one direction.
The other scan is darker, simply because it was placed on the bed in a different
orientation, but it shows some pertinent detail.
Press either thumbnail for larger version
Below is a photograph of the above. This is the cardboard placed on the carpet and the least affected aspect taken. The sheen on the cardboard affects the images taken.
Above, left: Peggy, 1919, with mother Elizabeth. Centre: Peggy's Aunt Maggie. Right: Father Robert with, we think, David, ca 1930.
Above, and below: Ray and Peggy, married 1941, May 28th. Right: Studio Photograph, overpainted, probably in the '40s.
Mum, late 30s, early 40s, Belfast, not on the same day, I presume!
Father in demob suit, Mother in 40's attire, Belfast, NI, ca '46
Mum's parents, ca '46. Elizabeth Ann Douglas, née MacDowell and Robert James Douglas,
who was an Orangeman, but went to live in London, England.
The MacDowell name comes from Mac Dubhgaill (dark stranger)
referring mainly to Scottish settlers, some of whom came from the
Western Isles as galloglasses (heavily armed mercenaries).
And, see the MacDougalls site.
Mum's parents, again, with Robert and an early TV, probably London, in the early sixties.
The Douglas family, with, at top, Peggy and her folks, post war and, above, her two brothers,
George & David, both killed in WWII. They stare out at me, the Irishness rampant, with the looks
of their parents. Can't quite imagine how the family must have felt, both boys gone.
Robert and Ann never had any more children. Robert, I am told, took it very badly.
They separated when I was in my teens. I remember going with my Irish grannie
to a seance or some other kind of spiritualist meeting in Belfast
when I was about six or seven. That sense of religiosity was kept in
the family by my mother, born in 1919, an ardent faith healer and spiritualist.
Well, I'm somewhat Irish, so, like them, I don't believe in fairies, but I know they're there!
David James Douglas,
1924-1944, on the right, was Private 14427504 1st. Battalion
Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment). He was a Commando, and,
in an abortive landing, later than the Market Garden (bridge at Arnhem fiasco),
was killed by friendly fire when he was part of an advance force. Those
coming in behind were forgetful, or took less care than they should have
about their orders, and did not recognise the forces who had dropped in earlier to prepare the area.
Thursday, 2nd November, 1944. That was at Volkeren Island, I believe.
David is buried in Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands.
This is 40km to the north and somewhat west of Antwerp (Belgium).
This is the link to Bergen-op-Zoom for David; another link
George, 1921-1943, the middle sibling, was in the RAF, part of a bomber crew.
I know that the last flight he took was the one before he would have had six weeks' leave.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, http://www.cwgc.org shows a
George Douglas having been a Sergeant, which is correct,
1098313, Flt. Engr. 460 (R.A.A.F.) Sqdn, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
The record also states that he died Saturday, 2nd October 1943, which also sounds right.
He was shot down over München, and, to my knowledge, was buried in
Durnbach War Cemetery, Bayern, Deutschland. The photograph above,
it would appear, was taken four months before he was killed.
Great character in his face. He, and David, might still have been alive, had fate not intervened.
This is the link to the Durnbach page for George.
Images of the general whereabouts of the graves of David
First left is Bergen-op-Zoom, then follows cemetery site with a street view.
Lastly, is the site of George's burial place. It's above the third yellow 472
to the right of the 318 road.
The note which is on the
back of the photograph refers to
Group Captain Hughie Edwards,
VC. DSO, DSC.
His VC was won on a rooftop level raid on Bremen, July 4th, 1941.
The attrition level for bomber crews was appalling.
Below is a Lancaster, G for George, residing at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
The gifs shown below, together with the accompanying explanation of some sections
of the written information, provide both the request about George and David's parents
trying to qualify for a pension, and personal information regarding the births of
all and the marriage of Robert and Elizabeth. The application was not completed,
it would seem, since the document never had the tear off section removed
from the last page. Click each to view a larger version. Read the accompanying explanation,
linked above, regarding Robert's birthplace. He had a half brother, named
Alexander, I have discovered. Robert's childhood was severe, and friendless:
Kept him from maintaining decent relationships, at least until later in life.
The last time I was in Ireland was in 1952, when we took a summer holiday
over in Belfast and at Donaghadee. I remember rowing a boat out into
the channel with Lynn and my old man going nuts. Seemed safe to
me, but then, I've always been likely to try dumb things. Lynn caught
a large, sick cod and also did well in a talent contest. Poetry reading, as I recall.
We had a glorious time of about six weeks.
Not that I've been back to England either since I flew to Vancouver in 1977, June 4th.
Elizabeth Ann died in
Birmingham, England, in 1960, of angina.
A sad, separated, lonely lady: she fell at a bus stop, hitting her
head, and I saw the bloodstain there for some time thereafter.
Horrid recollections. She was a nice lady, and I'm
sure my late mother missed them; Elizabeth Ann, Robert, David and George.
Top of page