Philip Baker

Timelines: Ribbon of Remembrance Philip Baker

Marcia Howard submitted this photo of her father, Philip Baker (right) and her Uncle Leslie – both ready to defend King and Country in 1915. The story she has to tell connects the First and Second World Wars:

“Philip my father and Uncle Leslie were the two youngest of the boys in their large family. With an ‘Army’ father in the Hampshire Regiment, it depended on his posting as to where each child was born. Uncle Leslie b.1907 was born in Bermuda, although by the time my dad arrived, they were back in England and he was born 1910 in Winchester. Older siblings had been born in various locations including County Cork, Aldershot and Hampshire. My grandfather Ernest Benjamin Baker was discovered to have haemophilia, a condition which eventually caused his demise, but with an Army Pension, was retained as an Army Messenger as far as I am aware. My grandfather, who died well before I was born, suffered a nose bleed after falling off his bike which caused him to bleed to death.

From checking the National School Admission Register, Leslie went to St Thomas’s Higher Grade National/Service Church of England school in Winchester. I couldn’t find details of where my father Philip went to school, but I do recall him telling me during my early teenage years, that he had hated school, and one day had just walked out, never to return. It was a year before he was officially allowed to leave. Fortunately for him he was both intelligent, and practical with his hands, and with a strong work ethic, became a self-taught engineer.

He married my mum Ivy in 1936, and at the outbreak of war in 1939, now with a young son (my eldest brother b.1938), was living in Bedfordshire. He worked as an Maintenance Engineer & Tool Fitter in the factory of ‘Malleable Iron Founders & Engineers’. As a ‘Key’ man, he was left to run the factory which had solely gone over to the production of Ammunition for the duration of the war, manned mainly by a workforce of women. It was a difficult time for my father as he suffered abuse on the street, still being fairly young but dressed as a civilian. My mother in later years told me he had also been given white feathers, as had happened to others in the Great War. He was a proud man and suffered great shame during this time, as he would have loved to have ‘gone off to war’. He was however on regular night-time fire-watch for the duration. Soon after the end of WWII he moved the family, which by this time had increased to 5 with the arrival of 3 more children, to London, where I was eventually born in 1948.”

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