warley hospital | personal accounts
Last update: 30|10|06
Warley Hospital

Detail inside Warley's first chapel.

"My particular interest in this old hospital is because I'm told my Dad actually met my mother there, I guess about 1937 or so. Before his wartime call-up he was a journeyman butcher for the larger outlets like Dewhurst (a kind of sub-contractor of the day) who would act as a relief manager, or whatever, to suit demand at the time.

Apparently he delivered the butcher's order to the hospital and that's how it all happened. They married in 1940 in King's Lynn (his home town) and where I still live.

In 1944 Dad was posted to the continent after the Normandy landings - he followed up the invasion force areas with the RAF - an electrician on the planes with ground crew. During this period mum was carrying me and Dad didn't return from Germany until Nov 1945. She became mentally ill, possibly with post-natal depression, or all the worry of having a child with no husband around and also Dad being in war-torn Germany. She was taken away when I was three months old.

Sadly, sometime after, may be a year or so, the psychiatric doctors at Hellesdon Mental Hospital near Norwich considered the illness and advised Dad a prefrontal leucotomy brain operation was the way forward which resulted in her being left time-locked in the war years and consequently lost to us all.

What a profound and historic mistake - as a result I had a mother that I never really knew, indeed I had no idea of her origins, life or roots, just a limited amount of knowledge because nobody ever talked or explained too much about the subject. She remained in hospital all her life and dad 'lost' his wife.

I was raised jointly by my grandmother (father's), Dad and his brothers and sisters. It's incredible to me that a psychiatric nurse should have such a destiny. Its taken me a lifetime to realize what this is was all about, probably because of the years of stigma which was attached to her illness. Now there's not a living soul with first hand info who could tell me the story.

From my limited knowlegde I have now managed to trace Mum's Irish roots and the residue of her family of thirteen. Of course they didn't know too much about the happenings. In a further attempt to understand, I've requested release of Mum's medical records (and so know of the 100 year rule) and also my Dad's wartime record and postings so I may hopefully have some idea or insight into how this tragic event occurred.

I can remember visiting the Brentwood Hospital with Dad in the early 50's to see Mum's old friends and also possibly a trip to his past memories I suppose. From some of the info I have discovered I can recall my childhood memories which must have been dormant but somehow and amazingly have been triggered back to the present with some clarity..

Gerald was able to find his mother's records:

I did manage to trace my mother's employment records via ERO as you kindly suggested. Amazingly, there was no red tape or bullshit attached to the enquiry, just a straight forward speedy email reply with the facts traced from the nurse's registers for 1939/40. My mother, Margaret Mary MacDonald, was from Carrick on Shannon, Ireland, no doubt came to this country and nursed to improve her propects. Her employment was subject to a six months probationary period and her service began on 7 Feb 1939, she was approved 4 Sept 1939.

She left the service of the hospital on 12 Dec 1940. I expect a month's notice was required (her marrige was to Robert 'Bob' Foreman on 5 Nov 1940 and he was called up on 30 Aug 1940) as I assume she finished at Warley to follow my Dad's UK postings with the RAF.

I've no objection at all to your posting my story on your pages devoted to Warley. I believe my parents would be extremely proud if they knew about such an event years on from the difficult world they then lived in. Perhaps it would be a good idea (if permissible) to put my parent's names in as well, with the dates and my email address - who knows, maybe there's a remote possibility someone from that time could recall my parents?

Gerald Forman

    Return to: Warley Hospital