In one of the saddest eBay listings that I’ve ever come across, I found the Funeral Guestbook for Richard Babb who died in Bristol, Gloucestershire in 1940. I’ve heard of Family Bibles coming up for sale on eBay and yet I’ve never seen one for our family. I would snap at the chance to recover those family records that would enhance our understanding of the collective history.
Yet, this Guest Book from the Funeral of Richard Babb (1859-1940) was lost and just floating about the Internet waiting to be reunited with our collective family. Once I had seen it, my heart grew heavy. I don’t normally engage in 20th Century memorabilia because it is too numerous and often of little Genealogical value. I thought about it for a few days and then decided that it MUST be reunited!!
I completed the purchase, but the current owner is traveling until the 8th, so there was a note that delivery would be delayed. The fact that it also must cross the Atlantic will certainly add to the delay. Regardless, it is on its way to my home where I can properly digitize it and wait until a member of the family is ready to reclaim it as part of their Babb history.
What happened next?
On the surface, Richard’s story seems rather mundane. His death was “Peaceful” but what happened next was unimaginable…at the time.
Richard Babb was born in the first quarter of 1859 in Taunton. As such, he is a member of DNA-04 which is known as the “Dragons of Somerset”. The Somerset Babbs happen to have a very contiguous lineage, so not much is in doubt, unlike in a number of other English Counties, such as Devon.
He married Hester James in 1879 and they had at least 9 children together. They lived very long lives together and by the time of Richard’s death on 29 Mar 1940 were located in Bristol.
Nazi Invasion of Poland
As Richard was laid to rest, world events were starting to take shape. Adolph Hitler decided that he needed to prove that his penis was even smaller than Napoleon’s and unleashed his insanity upon the world.
We don’t know the length of the illness that Richard succumbed to, but had he been lucid in his last 7 months he would have been aware that Nazi Germany had invaded Poland on 1 Sep 1939. Two days later the UK declared war on Germany.
Within 10 days of Richard’s death Germany would launch their campaign to take control of much of Western Europe, Including France. Within 74 days they completed this directive.
Nazi Invasion of Britain
On 10 July 1940 Germany launched an air war, known as the “Battle of Britain”. The image below (dated 29 Dec 1940) shows St Paul’s Cathedral while the city of London burns around it.
Nazi Invasion of Bristol
It is against this backdrop that Nazi war planes blitzed Bristo on 24 November 1940. Less than 8 months from Richard’s death, life in Bristol was turned upside down, never to return to normal!
In a previous post I’ve covered the brutal Nazi campaign to destroy Bristol. Here is a link to the original post: What happened on Wine Street (Bristol, England) – Babb Unabridged.
It happens to be that Richard and Walter Thomas Babb who is the person of interest in the original article are 4th cousins. As such, it is unlikely that they knew each other. But the stories of the devastation that was wrought upon Bristol are universal to anyone who would have resided there.
Hester (James) Babb, the widow relict of Richard Babb was still alive in Bristol at the time of the Blitz of Bristol. She managed to live for approximately 3 years after Richard’s death, but life as they knew it would never return to normal. Their 9 children were unable to protect her from this tragedy upon tragedies. It appears that 5 of the 9 children were still alive at the time the war broke out. They all seem to have survived the war, but their mother Hester was lost in March 1943. She did live to the ripe old age of 87, but the last few years were definitely not peaceful.