Schooling; Shropshire; To Australia
9 April 1974
My father never returned to Canada but took a trip to East Africa where
for a short time he ran the Nairobi Hotel. I was too young then to know
any particulars of anything but he left property in Uganda to my brother,
Pat. So Alfy and I were sent to school at Deal, Kent, England, while
Eric, who would then be about five or six years old travelled with his
The trip home from Canada caused congestion of the lungs in the writer
[Keighley] who was a long time in Limerick hospital. When I
came out both Dad and Mum had left for Africa. My Aunt, Sophia, took
me to Elm Park, a beautiful old world residence where I was looked after
until I left for school at Deal where I arrived on my birthday, 12 April
1912 [aged eight]. So few people recovered from congestion
of the lungs in those days that I was forbidden to go in the seawater.
Hence, I never learned to swim.
Only a few months later, 12 August 1912, I believe, my Aunt Sophia was
accidentally killed jumping from her carriage and hitting her head on
the curb in Limerick. The horse bolted but I still believe that she
should have stayed put.
Figure 12: The Holy Bible Aunt Sophia had
given to Keighley only four months earlier
Figure 11: An article on the
of Lady Clarina, 29 August 1912
As you can imagine I got to know my cousins quite well. In the December
holidays of 1912, Alfy and I were invited up to Frodswell Hall, Staffordshire
[for Christmas]. I can well remember the two School Masters
who travelled with us being astounded at us being met by three beautiful
Dad and mum came home in late 1913 and rented a house in Bedfordshire.
Early in 1914 Dad intended starting a garage. By that time already he
had a certificate from the British School of Motoring. When the war
[World War One] started on 4 August 1914, Dad joined up as
a Private (he should have gone into the Officers’ Training Corps
as he was a Sergeant in the Boer War).
My Dear Keighley,
This line is to wish you a very merry Christmas and many happy
returns. I am sending you a card which I hope you will keep in
remembrance of your father and when you grow up you can say this
came from France in 1915. I hope you will learn all you can at
school as you have to make your way in the world – hundreds
of men are being killed daily.
Your fond father,
Figure 13: A letter
to Keighley from his father while serving in France in 1915
During the war the Aunts in Ireland had us over for the summer holidays
each year. In fact it started in 1913 and by 1917 Eric came with us
too. So you can quite imagine that Alfy got to know the Aunts very well.
Sunday 4 November 1917
My Dear Eric and Keighley,
I cannot let this letter go without writing you a short note to
show you are not forgotten by your father although this war has
separated us and broke up our dear family may we all live to see
better days and better times yet. I am now at the base and don’t
know where I shall be yet but we trust in God to unite our family
again in peace and happiness. Be good boys. I think of your God
and mother – your best friends. Love to all your brothers
Your loving father,
Figure 14: A further
letter to Eric and Keighley from his father, 4 November 1917
Here in Australia we have not got, thank goodness,
the class distinction that they used to have in the United Kingdom and
Ireland. The following story always used to make me laugh: One day that
Alfy was over in Ireland, the Aunts asked him if he would mind sitting
down to afternoon tea with some people from Australia. These people
I incidentally met years afterwards in Melbourne. They had come out
from Ireland years ago and had done very well indeed.
After the war Dad took up a farm in Shropshire under the Soldier Settlement
Scheme and sold his place in Canada. I was never considered very strong
and before the war I contracted appendicitis in those far off days when
there was no penicillin or other drugs and it was a miracle that I pulled
through. I was nine weeks in Charring Cross Hospital and six weeks in
Cobham. So after the war Dad and Mum got me on to the farm and there
I stayed until 1928.
Figure 15: The Graham Family in Shifnal, Shropshire,
Top: Eric Graham (left) Keighley Graham (right);
Middle: Mrs. Forbes, (left), Edward’s wife, Beatrice Graham (left
centre), Lena Forbes
(right middle), Edward Francis Irvine Graham (right);
Bottom: Patrick Graham (left) Lionel Graham (right).
Figure 16: A letter to Keighley from his mother while
recuperating at Cobham, 1918
My mother passed on at Heath Hill, Sheriff Hales, Shifnal, Shropshire
on 7 January 1927. After that Dad had six house keepers in twelve months.
With five big boys, who would want to stay anyway? I was booked to sail
on the “Granasay” on 10 October 1927. But Dad had not left
the farm so I stayed to pack up and go to a bungalow in Welshpool.
Figure 17: The Graham Family Farm at Sheriff Hales,
Figure 18: Beatrice Graham’s
Grave at Sheriff Hales Cemetery
Figure 19: A sympathy letter from
Henrietta J. Butler, 8 January 1927
The Immigration Department made me wait until 10 December 1927. Alfy
came down to see me off from Tilbury Docks. The “Orsova”
arrived at Fremantle on 9 January 1928. It was booked for Melbourne
where we arrived on 16 January 1928.
Figure 20: The S.S Orsova in the Suez Canal, Egypt,
The County Infirmary
25 November 1917
My Dear Keighley,
Thank you for your letter telling us you sail in the Orsova on
10 Dec. Aunt B. and I send you our best wishes for a safe journey
and all success in the future. As we understand you did not go
up to London to see Mrs Scroope, if you did not, it seems a great
pity. As Shakespeare says, “There is a tide in the affairs
of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune”.
Of course it was possible she and you might not have suited each
other, but had you done so, you could have gone to the Immigration
Authorities and said to them, “I have been offered, have
I your consent to accept it?” If they had refused, you would
only be where you are now, and Mrs S. would still have been in
the background to give you a helping hand had need for one arisen.
However, “It is no use crying over spilt milk” and
we can only hope your decision will turn out for the best.
I do not know if you have heard of Aunt Butler’s [Anna]
on the 5 Nov. She fell on the pavement in George Street and broke
her hip and had to be taken to this hospital where I have been
allowed to stay with her.
She is slowly recovering strength after the shock, but it must
be many weeks yet before she can be taken home to C.C. [Castle
Crine]. She is quite unable to write, but sends you her best.
Love and all good wishes and with the same from me.
Your fond Aunt,
Figure 21: A farewell letter to Keighley
from Henrietta J. Butler, 25 November 1927
Figure 22: A farewell letter to Keighley from his brother,
Eric, 27 November 1927
69 Lichfield Road
I hope you got back with the motor cycle alright last Sunday.
I have written for a cap for the tank and will send it on when
I get it. Did you sell the car alright? It has been very wet,
dull and dreary weather here this last week. I went to church
this morning at Baswich the one I told you of outside Stafford.
I haven’t heard a word from Alfred.
I expect he has been over to you this weekend in hopes of the
car. The time is drawing near now when you will be off, abroad,
if by any chance the train stops at Wolverhampton. I may see
you there, because it may be many years before we meet again,
and I do not expect it will be in old England, especially if
I go abroad, too, next year.
I arrived at Stafford last Sunday at 5.30pm, the train was in
good time, because it did not leave Shrewsbury till 4.15 pm
nearly. Very little news, now closing, from your affectionate
Eric and his wife, Selina, would name their son, Keighley.
Unfortunately, he did not live more than three years. Some say Selina
never recovered from this loss nor did they have any more children.
Eric would eventually visit Perth, Western Australia, in 1986, some
fifty-nine years after his brother had earlier made the brave decision