Robert G. G. English and the English family

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Robert Graham Godfrey English
(1917 - 2001)

Royal Air Force Officer

and husband of

Valerie Margaret Stafford Robinson
&
Monica Mary Barrett

 

 

~ 1917

Robert Graham Godfrey English  was born in September 14, 1917 at Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, England.

 

Father:       Irwin Marcus Douglas English

Mother:     Constance Vincente Taylor.

 

From the England & Wales, Birth Index:

Name:........................................... Robert G G English
Mother's Maiden Surname: .......  Taylor
Date of Registration: ................... Oct-Nov-Dec 1917
Registration district: ................... Wisbech
Registration county: .................... Cambridgeshire
Volume Number: .......................... 3b
Page Number: ............................... 667

 

~ the earlier English family

Robert G. G. English came from a long line of timber merchants going back to the 1700's.

His father, Irwin Marcus Douglas English, was a Timber Merchant.

His grandfather, Arthur William English, was a Timber Merchant.

his great-grandfather, Henry Hampden English, was a Timber Merchant.

His great-great-grandfather, Thomas English, was a Timber Merchant.

 

Henry Hampden English who was born in Hull, Yorkshire came to Wisbech, Cambridgeshire in the 1840's with his younger brother.

The two brothers were co - founders of English Brothers timber merchants, of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

 

~ the 1920's to 1930's

Since the 1930's or earlier, the English family was living at The Grange, North Runcton, Kings Lynn in Norfolk.

His father was a Timber Merchant.

 

~ 1937

Robert English was interested in becoming a pilot since he was a teenager.  By the time he was 19 years old he was granted an Aviator's certificate on February 16, 1937.

From the Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificates:

Index Cards, E, Image No. 815

Original Card No. 14732

ENGLISH, Robert Graham Godfrey,
The Grange,
North Runcton,
Kings Lynn, Norfolk.

Born ............................................. 14th. September 1912 at Wisbech
Rank, Regiment, Profession ......
Certificate taken on  ....................  D. H. 60 Moth-Gipsy  85 h.p.
At .................................................  Cambridge Aero Club Ltd.
Date .............................................. 16.2.37

 

It is noted that in his Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate, his birth is September 14, 1912.  That is probably an error or an attempt by Mr. English to be a pilot sooner than the required age for it.

 

It was probably in 1937 when Robert English joined the Royal Air Force.

 

Robert English was granted short service commission as Acting Pilot on probation in the Royal Air force on May 18, 1937

From the newspaper - The London Gazette, 1 June, 1937

Page 3515

Air Ministry, 1st June, 1937.

ROYAL AIR FORCE.

GENERAL DUTIES BRANCH.

The undermentioned are granted short service commissions as Acting Pilot Officers on probation with effect from and with seniority of 18th May 1937:-

Robert Graham Godfrey ENGLISH.

 

~ 1938

Robert English was promoted to Pilot Officer in the Royal Air Force according to a newspaper listing dated March 22, 1938.

From the newspaper - The London Gazette, 22 March, 1938

Page 1940

Air Ministry, 22nd March, 1938.

ROYAL AIR FORCE.

GENERAL DUTIES BRANCH.

The undermentioned Acting Pilot Officers on probation are confirmed in their appointments and graded as Pilot Officers on the dates stated:-

Robert Graham Godfrey ENGLISH.

 

~ late 1930's or early 1940's

At the English home in The Grange, North Runcton, the English family had a house servant living with them named Ellen Micklewhite.  Her son Michael was also living with them too.

Michael Micklewhite is better known to the world as the famous actor Michael Caine.

The following is a snippet view from the book.  It mentioned that Michael Caine later in life located and visited Robert English.

From the book, Raising Caine:  the authorized biography, 1981:

"Michael met up with the surviving member of the English family who remembers him, Mr Robert English, a wartime Squadron leader in RAF Bomber Command, who remembers Ellen Micklewhite as 'an absolute Mrs Mopp - she not only ran the house …."

 

~ 1939

World War II begins for Great Britain in September of 1939 when the Germans of the Third Reich invaded Poland.

 

Robert English was promoted to Flying Officer in the Royal Air Force on October 15, 1939.

From the newspaper - The London Gazette, 14 November, 1939

Page No. 7643

The undermentioned Pilot Officers are promoted to the rank of Flying Officers on the dates stated:-

15th Oct. 1939.
Robert Graham Godfrey English (39724).

 

Also mentioned in The Times newspaper of the next day.

From the newspaper - The Times, Wednesday, Nov 15, 1939; pg. 10; Issue 48463; col D

London Gazette

Tuesday, Nov. 14

Air Ministry, Nov. 14
Royal Air Force
General Duties Branch

The follg. Pilot Officers on probation are confirmed in their appointments on the dates stated: -

(Oct. 30): ..... R. G. English .....

 

~ 1940

With World War II in the background, Robert English met a woman who was from another Military family.

 

Robert English married VALERIE MARGARET STAFFORD ROBINSON on May 21, 1940, at St. John the Baptist Church, Burley, Hampshire.

 

First the engagement announcement was mentioned in the newspaper, The Times, on March 27, 1940 and the marriage was mentioned in the newspaper, The Times, on May 28, 1940.

 

From the newspaper - The Times, Wednesday, Mar 27, 1940

FORTHCOMING MARRIAGES

MR. R. G. G. ENGLISH AND MISS STAFFORD ROBINSON

The engagement is announced between Flying Officer Robert Graham Godfrey English, R.A.F., only son of Mr. and Mrs. I. M. D. English, of The Grange, North Runcton, Norfolk, and Valerie Margaret, only daughter of the late Major Noel Stafford Robinson, R. A., and Mrs. Stafford Robinson, of Narrow Water, Burley, New Forest.

 

From the newspaper - The Times, Tuesday, May 28, 1940

MARRIAGES

ENGLISH : STAFFORD ROBINSON. - On May 21, 1940, at St. John the Baptist Church, Burley, Hampshire, Flying Officer Robert Graham Godfrey English, R.A.F., to Valerie Margaret Stafford Robinson.

 

At the time of her marriage in 1941 Valerie was probably was living with her mother at Narrow Water, Burley, New Forest, Hampshire.

Valerie didn't have much of a chance to get to know her father - Major Noel Stafford Robinson a Royal Artillery officer in the Army.

He was killed in action in France during World War I on August 2, 1918, a few months before the war ended, when Valerie was just over one and a half years old.

Click Here:  To read about the Stafford Robinson family

 

~ 1940 to 1945

Robert English was a pilot under the Bomber Command and was part of the 241 "Federated Malay States" Squadron in the Royal Air Force during the war.  He flew bombers and was a Squadron leader.

Information about the 214 Squadron from the website History of War:

No. 214 "Federated Malay States" Squadron spent the entire Second World War operating with Bomber Command.  Like many similar units it had a quiet start to the war, and offensive operations did not start until 14 Jun 1940, well after the start of the war in the west.  It remained part of the main bomber force from then until January 1944, first operating the Vickers Wellington and later the Short Stirling.

In January 1944 the squadron converted to the Fortress II, and joined No. 100 Group, carrying out radar counter-measures for the rest of the war, before disbanding on 27 July 1945.

Location

12 April 1937 - 3 September 1939:  Feltwell

3 September 1939 - 12 February 1940:  Methwold

12 February 1940 - 5 January 1943 (error should be 1942):  Stradishall

5-12 January 1942:  Honington

12 January - 1 October 1942 Stradishall

1 October 1942 - 10 December 1943: Chedburgh

10 December 1943 - 16 January 1944:  Downham Market

16 January - 16 May 1944:  Sculthorpe

16 May 1944 - 27 July 1945:  Oulton

 

Some information about the RAF base at Stradishall from the website Forces War Records:

After a brief period of Blenheim 1F fighters, Wellington bombers returned in February 1940 with 214 Squadron, the Federated Malay States Squadron, who stayed until October 1942.

One of the hangers suffered enemy bomb damage in early 1941.  Number 138 Squadron flew many sorties from November 1941 to March 1942 with Whitley bombers.

In April 1942 214 Squadron converted to Stirlings and 109 Squadron arrived in Wellingtons, then Oxfords of 1521 BAT Flight.

 

~ 1940

Robert English was mentioned in a listing of some Royal Air Force officers.

The London Gazette, 19 November, 1940

Page No. 6634

15th Oct. 1940.
Robert Graham Godfrey English (39724).

 

~ 1941

Robert English received a promotion in the R.A.F.

From the newspaper - The London Gazette, December 16, 1941

Pages 7114 & 7116

RESERVE OF AIR FORCE OFFICERS.

GENERAL DUTIES BRANCH.

The undermentioned promotions are made with effect from 1st Dec. 1941:-

R. G. G. ENGLISH (39724).

 

~ 1942

Robert English was the squadron leader of a Stirling bomber aircraft that crashed on the return to Stradishall air base on August 6/7, 1942.

From the website Forces War Records:

From the Service Record

Initials                                  R. G G
Surname                              English

Rank                                      Squadron Leader
Incident Date                    6/7. 08. 42

Incident Details                                Crashed on return to base
Fate                                       Unknown
Squadron                             214
Aircraft                                 Stirling
Stationed At                       RAF Stradishall
Location Duty                    Duisburg

Campaign Medals            1939-45 War Medal
1939-45 Star

 

~ 1943

Valerie and Robert had a son born 0n [ --------- ] 1943 in the Malmesbury Hospital in Wiltshire.

From the newspaper - The Times, Tuesday, Jul 13, 1943

Births

ENGLISH. - On [ ------- ] 1943, at Malmesbury Hospital, Wiltshire, to VALERIE (nee Stafford-Robinson), wife of SQUADRON LEADER ROBERT ENGLISH - a son.

 

~ 1945

Squadron Leader Robert English at the end of the war received the Campaign Medals, 1939-45 War Medal and the 1939-45 Star.

 

~ 1947

Robert and Valerie English are living in Mayfly Cottage in Fordingbridge, Hampshire.

They had a daughter born on [ --------- ] 1947 in the Fordingbridge Cottage Hospital.

From the newspaper - The Times, Thursday, May 22, 1947

Births

ENGLISH. - On [ ----------- ] 1947, at Fordingbridge Cottage Hospital, to VALERIE (nee Stafford Robinson), wife of R. G. ENGLISH, of Mayfly Cottage, Fordingbridge - a daughter.

 

~ 1948 to 1951

Robert English and his family moved to Walnut Tree Farm in Ufford in Northamptonshire.  According to the British Phone Books they were there from 1948 to 1951.

From the British Phone Books:

1948, Image No. 1515

Page 35

English, R. G. G, Walnut Tree farm Ufford……… Bainton  270

 

The information is identical in the phone books for 1949, 1950, and 1951.

 

~ early 1950's

It appears that Robert and Valerie English drifted apart and their marriage probably ended in a divorce by July of 1953.

That is because within 15 days of each other in July to August of 1953 both Robert English and Valerie English got remarried - to other people that is.

 

~ 1953

Valerie English went back to the Burley area in Hampshire where she and her mother were living before Valerie married Robert English in 1940.

 

Valerie M. English married 2nd ANTHONY or ANTONY WITHERBY  on July 31, 1953 in Ringwood, Hampshire.

 

From the newspaper - The Times, Friday, Aug 7, 1953:

Marriages

MR. A. WITHERBY AND MRS. V. ENGLISH

The marriage took place at Ringwood on Friday, July 31, of Mr. Antony Witherby and Mrs. Valerie English (nee Stafford Robinson).

 

From the England & Wales, Marriage Index:

Name: ..................................... Valerie M English
Spouse: ................................... Anthony or Antony Witherby
Date of Registration: ............. Jul-Aug-Sep 1953
Registration district: ............. Christchurch
Registration county: .............. Hampshire
Volume Number: ................... 6b
Page Number: ........................ 559

 

It would appear that Valerie Witherby stayed in Hampshire.

 

~ 1953 to 2001

For history of Robert English from the point when he married his second wife, Monica Mary (Barrett) Barnes:

Click here:  To go to the page on Monica English's History.

 

~ 1971

Robert English and Mrs. Valerie Witherby were mentioned in the engagement announcement of their son in the newspaper, The Times, Tuesday, Dec 21, 1971.

Robert was of Barningham, Yorkshire.

It mentioned:

"… son of Mr. R. G. G. English, of Barningham, Yorkshire, and Mrs. V. M. Witherby, of Barn Close, Burley, Hampshire…"

 

From the above we see that, in 1971, Valerie Witherby is living in Barn Close, Burley, Hampshire.

 

~ 1972

Robert and Monica was mentioned in the engagement announcement of his son and her stepson in the newspaper, The Times, Monday, December 4, 1972.

It mentioned:

"… son of Wing Commander R. G. English and stepson of Mrs English of St Mary's, Sheringham, Norfolk…."

 

 

 

Source:

1.     English Brothers timber merchants of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.  The National Archives, UK.  Online catalogue mentioning records relating to Joseph Thomas English.  Searched November 11, 2010 Thursday 2:35 PM.

2.     1917 Birth of Robert G. G. English.  Civil Registration Index, Birth of Robert G G English, 4th Quarter (Oct-Nov-Dec), Year 1917, District Wisbech, County Cambridgeshire...., Volume 3b, Page 667.  Ancestry.com.  Searched September 15, 2010 Wednesday 8:09 PM.

3.     1937 Aviator's Certificate.  From the Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificates, Ancestry.com.  Certificate Index Card No. 14732, 1937, Robert Graham Godfrey English.  Searched September 15, 2010 8:34 PM.

4.     1937 June 1 issue of The London Gazette .  Robert G. G. English mentioned.  Online at http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/34403/pages/3515 .  Searched September 16, 2010 Thursday 1:05 PM.

5.     1938 March 22 issue of The London Gazette .  Robert G. G. English mentioned.  Online at http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/34495/pages/1940.  Searched September 16, 2010 Thursday 1:14 PM.

6.     1939 November 14 issue of The London Gazette .  Robert G. G. English mentioned.  Online at http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/34733/pages/7643.  Searched September 15, 2010 Wednesday 8:51 PM.

7.     1939 R. G. English, Pilot Officer mentioned.  The Times, Wednesday, Nov 15, 1939; pg. 10; Issue 48463; col D.  Online at http://infotrac.galegroup.com.  Searched September 27, 2010 Monday 7:41 PM.

8.     1930's or 1940's  Ellen and Michael Micklewhite at the English family home.  A snippet view from the book, Raising Caine: the authorized biography, William Hall 1981.  Online at Google Books.  Searched January 27, 2012 Friday 1:02 PM.

9.     1940 engagement announcement of R. G. G. English to Miss Stafford Robinson.  The Times, Wednesday, Mar 27, 1940; pg. 11; Issue 48574; col C.  Online at http://infotrac.galegroup.com.  Searched September 15, 2010 Wednesday 9:51 PM.

10.     1940 marriage of R. G. G. English to Valerie M. S. Robinson.  The Times, Tuesday, May 28, 1940; pg. 1; Issue 48627; col A.  Online at http://infotrac.galegroup.com  Searched September 15, 2010 Wednesday 9:51 PM

11.    1940 marriage of Robert G G English and Valerie M S Robinson.  Ancestry.com, Civil Registration Index, 2nd Quarter (Apr-May-Jun), Year 1940, District Christchurch, County Hampshire, Volume 2b, Page 2789.  Searched September 15, 2010 Wednesday 2:59 PM.

12.     1940 to 1945 about the 214 "Federated Malay States" Squadron.  From the website http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/214_wwII.html .  Searched June 5, 2012 Tuesday 3:52 PM.

13.     1940 to 1942 about RAF Stradishall air base.  From the website, Forces War Records, online at http://www.forces-war-records.uk.co .  Searched June 5, 2012 Tuesday 3:45 PM.

14.     1940 November 19 issue of The London Gazette .  Robert G. G. English mentioned.  Online at http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/34996/supplements/6634.  Searched September 15, 2010 Wednesday 8:55 PM.

15.     1941 December 16 issue of The London Gazette .  Robert G. G. English mentioned.  Online at http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/35383/supplements/7116.  Searched September 16, 2010 Thursday 1:25 PM.

16.     1942 R. G. G. English's Stirling bomber crashed on base.  From the website, Forces War Records, online at http://www.forces-war-records.uk.co .  Searched June 5, 2012 Tuesday 3:45 PM.

17.     1943 announcement of the birth of a son of Robert and Valerie English.  The Times, Tuesday, Jul 13, 1943; pg. 1; Issue 49596; col A.  Online at http://infotrac.galegroup.com.  Searched September 27, 2010 Monday 8:24 PM.

18.     1945 R. G. G. English received Campaign medals.  From the website, Forces War Records, online at http://www.forces-war-records.uk.co .  Searched June 5, 2012 Tuesday 3:45 PM.

19.     1947 announcement of the birth of a daughter of R. G. and Valerie English.  The Times, Thursday, May 22, 1947; pg. 1; Issue 50767; col A.  Online at http://infotrac.galegroup.com.  Searched September 27, 2010 Monday 7:47 PM.

20.     1948 to 1951 R. G. G. English listed at Walnut Tree Farm, Ufford, Northamptonshire.  British Phone Books online at Ancestry.com.  1948, 1949, 1950, and 1951.  Searched January 30, 2012 Monday 1:11PM.

21.     1953 marriage announcement of  Mrs. V. English and Mr. A. Witherby.  The Times, Friday, Aug 07, 1953; pg. 8; Issue 52694; col B.  Online at http://infotrac.galegroup.com.  Searched September 27, 2010 Monday 8:31 PM.

22.    1953 marriage of Valerie M English and Anthony or Antony Witherby.  Ancestry.com, Civil Registration Index, 3rd Quarter (Jul-Aug-Sep), Year 1953, District Christchurch, County Hampshire, Volume 6b, Page 559.  Searched September 15, 2010 Wednesday 10:26 PM.

23.     1971  R. G. G. English and Mrs. V. M. Witherby mentioned in their son's engagement announcement.  The Times, Tuesday, Dec 21, 1971; pg. 12; Issue 58356; col B.   Online at http://infotrac.galegroup.com.  Searched September 15, 2010 Wednesday 9:55 PM.

24.     1972 R. G. English and Mrs. English mentioned in the engagement announcement of his son.  The Times, Monday, Dec 04, 1972; pg. 17; Issue 58648; col B.   Online at http://infotrac.galegroup.com.  Searched September 27, 2010 Monday 8:03 PM.

 

 

1st. version dated October 30, 2010 Saturday 9:37 PM - Halloween Eve.

Last updated September 10, 2012 Monday 2:11 PM

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Researched and Compiled by William Wallworth

 

 

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