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Connie appears regularly in Harry's letters. He obviously has a great deal of affection for this little girl.
When I started the blog, I knew nothing about her. I hadn't really looked at the two or three photographs in the "bits & bobs" box. She'd certainly never been mentioned in any family conversations that I could remember. Sister Anita knew nothing about her. But, as she was frequently and affectionately mentioned in Harry's letters, there was research to be done.
Connie aged three.
The Birth Certificate tells us that she was born on the 18th May, 1910 in a private house at 145 Nottingham Road, Ilkeston, Derbyshire. Her mother, who registered the birth, was Catherine Lamin. (Kate) Catherine's occupation was recorded in 1910 as a School teacher, living at that same address. There's no father on the birth certificate. The only other information on the certificate tells us that the birth wasn't registered for over a month after the birth - on 25th June.
Connie's death certificate records that she died on 21st December 1929 at Harlow Wood Orthopaedic Hospital, Sutton in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire. Her mother, recorded as living in Leeds, registered the death in Sutton in Ashfield. Kate's occupation was then recorded as a midwife. The death was registered on the 27th December, 3 days after the funeral on Christmas Eve, December 24th.
Connie's cause of Death was; a) Acute Dilation of Stomach. b) Operation. c) Spastic diplegia
I asked Willie (my father)about Connie. His memory was, at the time, failing and he told me that Connie was the daughter of a wealthy Ilkeston family. As she was a cripple, they advertised for someone to look after her and Ethel, Wllie's mother offered to do that. "It was very good of her."
I would guess that was the family story to cover the fact that Connie was Illegitimate. Willie knew the truth, as he annotated one of Connie's photographs to say it was "Daughter of Kate Lamin", in his distinctive handwriting. The "story" must have been used to explain the appearance of this little girl into the Lamin household. It would have came to the fore as Willie's memory became unreliable. The significance of the cryptic message on Annie's card to her sister Kate becomes clear.
Connie had cerebral palsy. "Spastic diplegia" on the death certificate confirms that explanation for her problems with walking as this form of cerebral palsy affects the legs and walking. The photograph showing her leaning against a chair, apparently illustrates a typical attitude for such a sufferer. It is quite likely that her intelligence was normal.
I have no clues as to where the "Wilkinson" part of her name came from. It could be a link to the father. Maybe he was able to pay something towards Connie's upkeep. As a schoolteacher and later, as a junior nurse or midwife, Kate would not have been well paid, yet there were expensive studio photographs taken and Connie was sent away to boarding school in Liverpool. The outfits we see her in were quite smart. Note the beautiful boots.
A phone call to the council offices for Ilkeston located her grave in the main cemetery in the town. I duly visited and photographed the grave that she shared with her mother, my great aunt Kate. Another emotional interlude.
I now feel that I know her quite well. It's recorded by Harry that she and Willie were great friends. Harry and Ethel loved her dearly and she was obviously in Harry's thoughts through his tribulations in the Great War. I don't think she ever walked properly.
The inscription on her gravestone reads "Peace".
Next week - Annie