War Stories – Sea Mills & Coombe Dingle – Failand Crescent

15 Failand Crescent

Number 15 was one of the houses researched for the Sea Mills 100 heritage trail in 2019. The house was built in the second wave of construction in Sea Mills in 1931 and the first residents were Reginald and Doreen Carter. Reginald joined up when he was 19 and served in the Gloucester Depot from 1915 – 1918. When they moved to Sea Mills between the wars Reginald would have been 35 and Doreen 33. Doreen looked after their two children Maureen and Tony, and was a keen dressmaker. The children had many friends on Failand Crescent with whom they would play street games (hopscotch, rounders, marbles, knock down ginger), pick walnuts off the farmhouse tree ( when they could manage to get past the dog!) and go exploring in the woods and along the river banks. The Carters lived in the house for about 25 years and then re-located to Shirehampton Road.

Artists impression of Reginald and Doreen – apparently Reginald was actually much taller!

In the late 1930’s Reginald worked as a time keeper on the docks. Timekeepers were part of the Wages and Labour section and it was part of Reginald’s job to calculate the wages due to all the dockers for their toil – unloading grain, coal tar, bananas, timber, the many imports and exports that came via “the mouth”.

Number 15 was researched by Kristen and on the day of the Heritage Trail she met Glenda and her sister Marion who grew up in the house next door – number 13, they were good friends with Reginald and Doreen’s children. Glenda told Kristen about an American GI who was billeted with the family at number 15 – see her in the video below.

Glenda remembers wartime in Failand Crescent

Raymond Mendini was born in Michigan USA, his parents had emigrated to the US from Italy in the early 1900’s and he was the sixth born of at least seven children. Before the war he was an office clerk in a brewery company. He served in the US Army from 1943-45, survived D-Day and relocated to Wisconsin where he lived until the age of 85.

Front – Ron Maggs
Middle L-R – Ron’s daughter Suzanne, Glenda May nee Gibbings, Maureen Maggs nee Carter, Marion Brailey nee Gibbings
Back – Chris Maggs and his son Josh, Maureen’s son and grandson.

Glenda travelled a long distance especially for the weekend.

On the second day of the Heritage Trail Kristen also met Reginald and Doreen’s daughter Maureen. She had fond memories of Raymond Mendini and remembered him reading her and her little brother bedtime stories.

L-R – At the back Glenda Gibbings (no 13), Sylvia Munday (no 16) , Keith Ramsey (no 11) and Maureen Carter (no 15) with Angela Ramsey (no 11) in front. All outside 13 Failand Crescent around 1944/45
The current residents of number 15

5 Failand Crescent

Number 5 was also researched for the Sea Mills 100 trail. The wartime occupants appear to be a Mr and Mrs Thomas Reed.

The ration book in the name Thomas Reed was found in the house by a later occupant, rationing started during WW2 but continued well into the 1950’s. Inside the book contains coupons which had to be used with cash to purchase items. Customers registered their books with local shops and this one is stamped up with Halletts (Grocers) and Downham Butchers, both on the Square.

Ration book for eggs, cheese, fats & bacon at Halletts and meat from H.D. Downham

The Reed’s must also have had some bomb damage to their house because they received one pound and eight shillings War Damage Contribution from the Government on 14th Aug 1945. A hand written note found with the document says this relates to a bomb which fell at the junction of Failand Crescent and Trymside at “the end of July or 1st week of August 1941”, this was verified by the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) official and fire watchers.

We know from neighbours at the time that the Reed’s were not council tenants. This is also born out by their household account book which in several places has “rent” crossed out and “mortgage” inserted. This shows that while the vast majority of council home selling happened as a result of Margaret Thatcher’s right to buy, it was not a new concept.

A page from a 1939 household accounts book found at 5 Failand Crescent. Wages in are shown as £3 with the rent payment replaced by a £1, 10s amount for mortgage. We’d love to know more about the entry “tip for furniture removers (Billiard Table) particularly as there is no corresponding bill for said table.

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