Sunday, December 18, 2011

Family History and Christmas in England


Dear Family and Friends,

One of our regular patrons, an English gentleman in his 80’s, shared with us the gravestone epitaph of his great grandfather’s brother and sister-in-law. It reads:

To the memory of Joseph and Maria Hales, who in the 22nd year of their age and in the first year of their marriage were both killed at Tibberton while sleeping in their bed at 3 o’clock in the morning Saturday December 20th 1862 by the sudden falling of the tall chimney belonging to the Paper Mill during a long continued gale of wind. “Watch therefore for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”

Quite a run-on sentence but some good advice at the end. You never know what you will find when you do family history.

A couple of weeks ago the senior family history missionaries working at The National Archives, began a project to help  prepare World War I Diaries for digitization. At times when all the missionaries are not needed on the floor, we go down to the basement of the Archives and carefully sort through archive boxes containing the diaries of British Military units. According to TNA information, “A war diary is a daily record of operations, intelligence reports and other events, kept for each battalion by an appointed junior officer”.  Below is an image I found on an internet site that shows a page from a diary .

The diaries are mostly hand written accounts of daily happenings, often listing the numbers of casualties. One box I was going through had several maps showing trenches and the English and German battle lines. On the back of the diary someone had written, “On His Majesty's Service”.

The maps are of particular interest to me as my Dad was a cartographer in the US 8th Infantry Division during World War II. He was in many of the same places in World War II that are shown on the maps we see as we work on the project.

                               One of my Dad’s maps

For our children and those interested, here’s a link to information about the 8th Infantry Division Division in WWII:


Christmas in England



I have a London Advent Calendar on my computer that uses sights and scenes of London to count down the days until Christmas. On the calendar Big Ben keeps the correct time, the sky changes to dark when the sun goes down and the phase of the moon is always correct. Tonight it’s in the last quarter. December has been flying by.

With several of the other senior missionary couples, we caught bus number 10 from Kensington High Street and rode on the top deck down Oxford Street to see the Christmas decorations.



Many of the department stores have amazing Christmas displays and lights decorate the crowded streets.



We are going with the other senior missionaries to the Royal Albert Hall on Christmas Eve for the program Carols by Candlelight.

Since Christmas Day is on Sunday this year and since the tubes and buses don’t run on Christmas, we will be walking to the Hyde Park Ward for their sacrament service instead of going to the North London Ward.

London has so many Christmas traditions it would be impossible to write about them all but here is one that I really like.

In the forest of Østmarka which is near Oslo, Norway, a 46 year Norwegian Spruce tree was selected as the 2011 Christmas tree for Trafalgar’s Square. For the past 65 years the city of Oslo has donated a Christmas tree to the city of London in appreciation of England’s assistance during World War II.

When it reaches Trafalgar Square, the tree is carefully decorated. A plaque at the foot of the tree reads:

       ‘This tree is given by the city of Oslo
       as a token of Norwegian gratitude to
       the people of London for their
       assistance during the years 1940-1945.
       A tree has been given annually since 1947’


We feel so blessed to be able to serve a mission in this beautiful country. We are thankful for the friends we have made here and for the wonderful missionaries we are privileged to serve along side. We are ever grateful for our friends and family at home.

We pray for God’s blessings on you all.

Merry Christmas!
Love, Elder and Sister Fugal (aka Cheryl and Ken, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa)

1 comment:

  1. It is possible that your father was based in Kew near where the archives is now as the US Army had their European cartography section based there in 1943, although they moved out before D-Day in June 1944.