7 April 2009

A Slight Obsession . . .

So I'm taking you back to the village of Stretham, in Cambridgeshire, the home of so many of my maternal ancestors, for the birth of Joe Stubbins on 5th April 1890. Now this chap is not directly related to me, being the son of my great-uncle's wife, but I kept finding stuff about him and, well, you know how it is - you just get hooked.

Joseph William Stubbins, to give him his correct name, son of Sarah Kate, was christened on 4 May 1890 at St James' Church in the village. In the 1891 census he and his mother were living, with her parents, at The Crown Inn in Reads Street. By 1901, his mother had married Edward Reeve but they all remained at The Crown. Similarly, there they all are in the 1911 census, by which time Joseph was a 20 year old blacksmith. So far, so very ordinary.

On 6th April 1911, four days after the census, he sailed on the "Tunisian" from Liverpool, destination Halifax, Nova Scotia.

When the Great War broke out he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force, naming Uncle Bill as his next of kin. On 26th May 1916 the Ely Standard (newspaper) carried the following article:-

Wounded soldier
The mother of Pte JW Stubbins, 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles, has received the news from the front that her son has been wounded in the left eye. The following letter has been received from the Chaplain:- Dear Mrs Langford. Your son JW Stubbins is in hospital and is getting on splendidly. He is quite well except for one eye, which was injured by a splinter from a rifle grenade. He cannot write himself, as both eyes have to be bandaged to prevent strain. There is no cause for anxiety except for his eye. The specialist cannot yet know whether the sight is injured permanently or not. Yours faithfully RW Ridgeway, Chaplain.

Just one week later, there was another story to catch my attention:-

Wounded in action
Pte JW Stubbins, Canadian Mounted Rifles, who was reported wounded last week, has had his left eye removed as a result of the wound received in action.

One must assume that he was then invalided out. He married Elsie Kilminster in 1917 in London and I leave the next bit of the story to the late Beatrice Stevens in her book "Stretham - A Feast of Memories"

Joseph Stubbins was a tall, dignified man who had emigrated from our village to Canada until patriotism brought him back to fight in the First World War. He and his London-born wife intended to return to Canada at the end of the war, but family illness intervened and they settled in our little village. They called their house "Canuck". Joe Stubbins' workshop was attached to the house in Back Street, but he didn't make cobbling a life-time job, but became a fruit-famer and agent.

I don't know for certain but I believe that he lived until the 1970s. Hopefully this has given you some idea why I had to find out more . . . !


Anonymous said...

A slight correction- Joseph William Stubbins put his mother, Mrs Sarah Kate Langford, as his next-of-kin when he enlisted.
But thank you anyway, for an informative article!

Genpen said...

Thanks for the info. Glad you enjoyed it; do email me if you have any more info. :-)