Woolf was the sixth son of Marks and Clara Joseph. He was born on 13th March 1884 and at the time of his birth, the family lived in Whitechapel in the East End of London. Sometime during the next ten years they moved into 17, New Street in the Houndsditch / Aldgate area of the City of London.
Woolf had eight siblings: five sisters and three brothers.
Woolf's first employment was as a porter but by 1911 he was working as a fruiterer at Spitalfields. (Although there'd been a market on the site since the seventeenth century, the market buildings where Woolf would have been working were erected in the 1880s). He had left home and was living as a boarder at 3, Providence Place, Aldgate with two elderly sisters, Hannah and Abigail Hyams, both in their early seventies.
Woolf's father had died in 1901 but his mother continued to live at 17, New Street with two of her other sons and three lodgers.
Serves in World War One
In World War One, Woolf joined the Royal Fusiliers, also known as the City of London Regiment, and went to serve overseas sometime after January 1916. His rank was a private but little else is known of his service.
In total, 235,476 men served in the Royal Fusiliers. They were in every theatre of war except Mesopotamia and were in every battle. 21,941 members of the Royal Fusiliers lost their lives.
Woolf, however, survived the war and was awarded the British and Victory medals.
Emigrates to Canada
In 1920 he took a third class passage from Liverpool to Canada on a Canadian Pacific Ocean Services ship. At some point he returned to England but in 1926 he took another third class passage on the S.S Montcalm back to Canada. On his original trip he gave his potential occupation in Canada as a farmer but on the second trip he described himself as a merchant.
In 1930, Woolf (farming once again) had been back to England and was returning to Halifax in Canada from Southampton. He was accompanied by his wife, Rose. She was Rose Pritchard who had gone out to join him in 1926.
In 1932 Woolf and Rose visited London again. They returned from Southampton to Canada on the S.S. Alaunia. This time they were still in farming and travelled tourist class. On their 1933 trip they were back in 3rd class; Woolf was once again a merchant and their destination was New York.
Travels on the Queen Elizabeth to New York
They didn't do any more travelling until 1947 when, still describing his work as that of a merchant, Woolf and Rose returned to New York on the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth, travelling cabin class. In 1949 they travelled first class on the Cunard liner Franconia to Quebec. Woolf now described himself as a salesman and Rose was a housewife.
In 1954 they made another return trip after a visit to London travelling first class to Quebec on the S.S. Scythia. Woolf was now retired and Rose still a housewife. 1956 saw them making another trip, returning to Montreal this time travelling first class on the S.S. Ascania. In 1957 they had another visit to England returning first class to Montreal on the S.S Saxonia.
Woolf died in Canada on 22nd August 1958 and his remains were brought back to the U.K in a lead casket and interred in the Jewish Cemetery at Golders Green. In the neighbouring plot lies his sister, Sarah, who also died in 1958 just a few days later.
Woolf was my husband Michael's great uncle. He can re-call meeting Woolf a couple of times and that he was very well off. Throughout WW2 and the ensuing years of austerity, Woolf had sent food parcels to his family and although they saw him infrequently, he was held in high regard.
What a year 1947 was! As well as the on-going post-war trauma there was the worst winter weather of the twentieth century to contend with; there was rationing of petrol, potatoes, bread and just about everything else; there were power cuts and make-do-and-mend; there was the nationalisation of the coal mining industry and the railways; the “Cold War” started and there was the inauguration of the CIA; the violent birth of independent India and Pakistan took place along with the partition of Palestine; the Marshall Plan was created by the USA to try and improve the situation in post-war Europe; the “New Look” was designed by Christian Dior in Paris while “Utility” furniture was the best that most people could hope to buy.
My mum, Doreen Buckle, kept a diary during the early months of 1947. I've been using it as a starting point to find out more about that era. You can read more about my findings if you click here.
By the Summer of 1947 Doreen had stopped writing in her diary and I think I can guess why.
Love was in the air!
On July 7th 1947 the engagement was announced between Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. Although they'd met in 1934 and been secretly engaged since 1946, the official announcement wasn't made until after Elizabeth's twenty-first birthday. The wedding was held on 20th November 1947 and Philip became the Duke of Edinburgh in the morning before the wedding ceremony.
Ration coupons were still required to buy the fabric for Princess Elizabeth's wedding gown which was designed by Norman Hartnell. It was made from ivory satin with pearl motifs of star lilies and orange blossoms.
While this was going on I think that Doreen herself started a new romance. There are hints throughout her diary of boys she was interested in:
Saturday January 11th 1947
I danced with John nearly all night.
Saturday 8th February 1947
W.S. danced with me quite a lot.
Saturday 5th April 1947
Went to Cuban [a dance hall in Barnsley] at night, had a lovely time met a nice Polish soldier.
Monday April 7th 1947
Went to Dance at night not bad.
Very nice boy there – Brian.
N.B walked me home.
Monday May 26th 1947
Played in tournament with T.C.
Went to Cuban.
Had a really smashing time.
Arthur was there. He is quite nice.
W.S. also there.
But one name keeps recurring:
Saturday Feb 1st 1947
Went to Palace [cinema] at night.
Maurice and Norman there. Norman walked me home.
Saturday March 22nd 1947
Went to Modern School Dance at night.
Not too bad. N.B. walked me home. What a thrill.
Monday April 7th 1947
N.B walked me home.
Wednesday May 7th 1947
Played tennis, not bad games.
Saw N.B at night.
And N.B is my dad, Norman Buckle, who had been discharged from the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy in July 1946 and was a full-time student at Bradford Technical College working towards a Diploma in Public Health and Administration. And I think they started going out with each other or "courting" as they called it in those days.
Unfortunately, they both died many years ago so I can't ask; only speculate.
Doreen was 20 years old at the end of 1947 and on December 29th the following year, when she was twenty-one, her card from Norman looks quite special.
In December 1949 Norman bought an engagement ring. I guess they announced their engagement to be married when it was Doreen's birthday that year.
Doreen and Norman were married on September 2nd 1950 and were joined by me the following Summer.
I think I'm at the end of my 1947 Diary Project now. I've really enjoyed researching the various topics suggested by my mum's diary. If you would like to read more please click here to take a look at my 1947 Diary page where there are links to most of the blogposts I've written about the diary.
I'm a former primary school head teacher now enjoying family history, e-publishing and gardening. I'm the author of "Cabbage and Semolina: Memories of a 1950s Childhood" and was delighted when the book became an Amazon 2015 bestseller in the Social History category. I'm the founder of Spurwing Ebooks which is at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com for book details and information about new releases and special offers. Details of my books are at https://www.amazon.co.uk/C.-Murray/e/B009R7CRVC and the other books I've published are at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Murray/e/B007AQZMZK