Jenkins-Of-Ewelme Web Site

C F Baker Memo

The following text was written on our request by Charles Baker (Margaret's father), a couple of years ago when he was about 83 years old. When time permits, I will also produce a database in a similar fashion to the Jenkins Line.

FAMILY TREE of Charles Frederick Baker 

My paternal Grandfather (Albert Frederick Baker), met and married my grandmother whilst he was serving with the British Armed Forces in Ireland. They came to Britain where he was demobbed, and he found work as a warehouseman in Wapping, London docks. 

They had three children, Albert, Charles (my father), and Violet, and lived in a cottage near Victoria Park, Camberwell. 

My mother, (Charlotte Clarey) was also brought across from Ireland (County Waterford), by her aunt (for reasons unknown). They lived in a house in Chicheley Street, Westminster, where County Hall now stands. Evidently, the aunt was a very domineering person and made my mother a skivvy. She did not allow her to receive any schooling, which therefore explains why she could not read or write. At the age of 17 she was working in the War Office. In 1912 she met my father who had been conscripted into the Army. They married in September 1913. 

She became pregnant with me in December 1914, by which time my father had left for France with his battalion. 

News was given to my mother and his family of his being killed in action the battle of the Somme, sometime in 1915, where over 20,000 were killed in one day. He was buried in a memorial cemetery in Font-en-Bleau, France. My father therefore, never knew of my existence but read about it from a letter written by my Aunt Violet who wrote all the letters to him for my mother because she could not read or write. 

I was brought up by my grandparents whilst my mother went back to work in the War Office and she told me that out of her meagre wages that were paid in those days she had to forward £2.76 pence per quarter to the Imperial War Graves Commission towards the upkeep of my father's grave from 1914 until the end of 1918. 

It was at the War Office that she met and married my step-father, Frank J. Bloomfield, who was the caretaker and foreman of the cleaning staff as well. He came from a large family who were of Jewish origin. They consisted of six brothers and four sisters. His mother was the Godmother of all families and ruled them with a rod of iron. 

The family lived in a large four-storey house in York Road, Westminster. I lived there and attended school in the Old Kent Road. Some weekends I was sent to my grandparents in Camberwell. When I was around 7 years old my stepfather was offered a job as a caretaker of the Labour Exchange with living accommodation at Jerdan Place, Fulham. My school was only five minutes walk away, St.John's C of E, Dawes Road and the Church, St. John's was just across the way, where my mother entered me into the choir at the age of 11. 

When I was in my teens, 13 to be exact, I drew from memory a set of wrought iron gates enclosing a view of the mansion therein, all drawn by pen in Indian ink. It was entered by my teacher into an Art Show at a Civic Fete held in Fulham Town Hall. It won first prize and I received a three month voucher to train at the Royal Society of Arts School in Hobart Place, Sloane Square. But, unfortunately, at the end of the term my mother was asked to pay £5 a month for further tuition, but she could ill afford to do so. 

Leaving school at 14 my mother decided to find me employment so as to increase the family income. This she did and I began work in the printing industry at the Fulham Gazette just a few yards up the road from where we lived. 

A couple of months before reaching the age of 16 the manager told my mother that the printing industry were calling for apprentices in the City of London. I was sent to a firm called the Record Composition Co. in Sheffield Street, Kingsway. I was accepted and after the papers were duly signed and stamped, I had to go to the Printing Union in Fleet Street and was inaugurated as a member, to which I belong to this very day. 

During my 7 years apprenticeship I had to attend the Monotype Training School in Fetter Lane, Fleet Street to train as a Monotype Keyboard operator. I finished my 7 years working at the firm as a qualified operator. At the age of 21 I decided to leave the firm and go elsewhere to gain more experience and increase my wages, which were only £30 per week after working 60 hours. 

During this time my mother introduced me to a girl who was the manageress of a bakery in North End Road, Fulham. She lived with her family in a block of flats in Draycott Avenue, Chelsea. After a two year courtship we decided to get wed and in December 1937 we were duly married in St. Mary's Church, Cadogan Street, Chelsea, and went to live in a house in Vauxhall Road, Vauxhall. In May, 1938, our first son was born, Brian. At this time, employment was at its lowest ebb. 

I was only working for three days a week with the rest of my wages being made up by my Union. In the August of 1939, with 27,000 print men on the dole, I ventured into the Royal Air-Force Recruitment Office in Kingsway, London, and volunteered, realising that war seemed imminent and I would be called up eventually. 

A fortnight later I was called to No.1. Station, Uxbridge for a medical and kitted out, etc. 

My wife decided to give up the house and moved back to a flat in Draycott Avenue, Chelsea to be near her family. 

I was posted to Blackpool for three months and eventually sent to the Orkney Islands on permanent duty on the Operations Block (Teleprinters) with the Fleet Air Arm. After a year there I was posted to Biggin Hill attached to 145 Squadron (Spitfires). After a severe bombing raid the station was closed down owing to severe damage, so I was sent home for a fortnight's rest period. During that period I received a posting to Catterick, Yorkshire to join my squadron who were getting ready to go overseas. 

Embarking from Liverpool in a convoy of ships (?) ever (?) to leave Britain, and after sailing thousands of miles of ocean we eventually arrived in Freetown, South Africa from where we spent some time in Durban and Johannesburg before again embarking and sailing on to Egypt. 

Eight months later I received my first promotion to Corporal and after the battle of El Alamein where Rommel was defeated, I was made up to Sergeant in a newly formed R.A.F. Regiment Corps. 

In 1943 I arrived back in Britain, and posted to Bridgenorth, Shropshire for a while and then on again to the Grand Hotel in Torquay. From there I was sent to the Grand Hotel, Brighton, to take charge of repatriated Australians who were being sent home. 

Later, I came back to London and was again promoted to Flight Sergeant and was training young ATC cadets to a career in the R.A.F. as officers. 

I was demobbed at Olympia in February 1947 and went back into print, working at George Whites print shop in the World's End, Chelsea. 

Not liking the flat in Chelsea and also needing more accommodation I eventually received a council house in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire and we moved in October 1954.