Phillip Russell’s memories as told to his son Tom in 2018
Philip’s parents George Herbert Russell 1885-1967 and May Jessie Fisher 1892-1945 . Sibling Daphne Joan Russell (Oram) 1922-2002
Grandfather Fisher see Thomas Fisher 1857-1944
My contact with him was quite limited
On one of our pre-war Devon holidays with the Tuckers he sat with me on the beach and got me to select the size of stone that David used to slay Goliath. There is a picture of Daphne doing the same thing some years before.
In his Exeter garden he laid out an area depicting the Royal Artillery Badge. In my mind it shows his devotion to the army and the congregational church.
As he was a career soldier he must have been posted to many places in the U.K. and abroad. My Mother used to talk of Scotland and Ireland (the Black and Tans?). The family must have moved with him and lived in some sort of army housing. I have seen a picture of him with an elephant pulling an artillery gun. He worked his way up to Regimental Sergeant Major (the highest rank a non-commissioned officer could get to in those days). RSMs were in charge of regimental discipline and parades for the whole regiment.
When he died I inherited a Malaca swaggering stick which had been presented to him at his retirement. My Father later gave it to Ronald [son of Uncle George] as he was in the same Regiment!
My Mother told me that he was very strict and when my Uncle had a bad report from Sunday School which he had missed one day, he beat him with a broom handle causing severe bruising.
I was told that when Uncle Harry wanted to marry Auntie Win (a distant cousin) he tried to forbid it. When they got married he never spoke to them again (they had no children).
According to Daphne when my Grandmother died he very quickly married Constance May. There was a strong rumour that he had an affair with her while my Grandmother was alive.
Grandfather Fisher’s second wife Constance
Philip remembers Constance Fisher from holidays in Exeter. She was very small and gave the appearance of being rather downtrodden. She lived in a little cottage just around the corner from where Philip’s grandson, Robert, lives now.
George see George Patrick Fisher 1895-1994, Harry see Henry William Fisher 1890-1957 and another see Thomas Victor Fisher 1877-1930.
It was my Grandfather’s general plan that his sons should become career soldiers and that his daughters should stay at home to look after them. Both George and Harry joined the Artillery at a young age, either fourteen or fifteen and left home. I assume the third Uncle did the same.
Both George and Harry served in the First World War and worked their way up the ranks. I believe that by 1918 they were commissioned (things had changed and non-commissioned officers could reach officer status). They were both in the Artillery, I think in different regiments. I believe they ended the War as lieutenants.
Both Uncles were mobilised for the British Expeditionary Force at the start of the Second World War. I think they were both regimental quarter masters. One was in the Royal Horse Artillery, I do not know the other’s regiment. When they got to France they found that the equipment was mainly from the earlier war and some of their guns were useless. Uncle Harry told us how they arranged to meet and swap spares and to cannibalise some artillery to make as many workable as possible.
They both ended up at Dunkirk and I think it was Harry that was mentioned in dispatches (some form of hot food being provided on the beaches). I remember the feeling of tension at home at this time as my Mother was so worried about them. When she heard they were both safe she wept with tears of joy.
By the end of the War Uncle George was Lieutenant Colonel and Harry was a Major (both possibly wartime promotions). After the War Harry was involved in the Territorial Army near Newcastle and I think Uncle George retired to the south bank of the Mersey near the ferry.
When you think about it both Uncles had spent many years in the army and would have been posted all over the U.K. and many campaigns in the Empire. Ronald, George’s son was told that his Father had the most medals of anybody in the Regiment.
Uncle Harry would occasionally send birthday presents on his birthday. One year both Tony and I had a puppy sent to us.
Philip has fond memories of George, who was adored by the family generally. He couldn’t remember nephews and nieces birthdays, so he sent presents on his own birthday instead. Once this included a dog, which was to be named Mickey.
One Christmas before the War the Tuckers and both Uncles were staying at Hitchin and Uncle George and Harry rigged up our radio and Tony and I sat in front of it and spoke to Father Christmas- magic! He even knew the names of all our teachers and all about us, that was the most fun. Unfortunately when we tried to contact him the next day it did not work.
My Mother told me that her Father (known as Himself) had a plan to get rid of his sons as soon as he could. His intention was that they should be enlisted as boy entries into the regular army. His daughters were to go to work, pay well towards their upkeep and stay at home to look after them in their old age.
I think Aunt Bertha see Henrietta Bertha Fisher 1883-1967 was the first to escape. She married a farm labourer and moved away. I don’t think her family had much contact with her after that. The only time I met her was shortly after my Mother died and Daphne and I visited her and her three daughters. I am not clear where they lived but I remember we caught a train to Cambridge and then cycled way out into the countryside. We only stayed for one night. They were living in a poor labourer’s cottage. Times were very hard during the war.
I think the next one to escape was my Mother see May Jessie Fisher 1892-1945. The big question has always been how did my father meet her?! She had worked for a while with an Exeter Company who printed books etc (educational I think) and also sold books. She had a fairly good job. I know she was very friendly with the daughter of the owners. My mother called her Jimmy James.
My guess is that when my Father was articled to an architectural company in London they also were involved in some work in Exeter. He was always interested in books and I imagine he spent some time there. If anyone else has a better theory l would love to know.
May stopped working when she got married, as was usual. They lived at 66 Bancroft in Hitchin and moved to 91 Bancroft after George’s father died. This was an attractive Victorian *** Georgian *** house.
May died of kidney problems.
It was assumed that Aunt Eileen see Eileen Martha Fisher 1901-1994 would stay at home and look after her parents, but she ‘escaped’ when she married Arthur Tucker who worked for and eventually became a Director of Evans Gadd, a wholesale chemists.
My Memories of the Tuckers and the Russells.
From when I was about six until the start of the last war our families used to meet for Christmas at Hitchin and Exeter and we would sometimes meet up for a holiday in Devon. At that time The Tuckers lived in 99 Polsloe Road (I think that is the right address) not very far from where my grandson Robert has a flat. When they were alive my grandparents lived down the road at the corner of no 99. I remember when I was fairly small going down to see them and being impressed when my grandmother cut an egg in half for our tea. I was then amazed when I found out that Mavis and Tony used to call once a week and they got the remains of the curry for their tea. My mother and her sister were very close and I remember them sitting at the piano and singing Sankey And Moody hymns at the top of their voices. Our holidays were at basic boarding houses but were always great fun. My father would usually book a trip on a paddle steamer which was exciting!