Actually Rose Murray (my husband Michael's mum) was born on 31st May 1908 but for some reason her parents Maurice John Arthur and Sarah Murray didn't register her birth until a few days later, hence June 6th. Rose always said she was like the Queen having a birthday and an official birthday.
Rose was born in New Street, Gravel Lane near Aldgate within the original walled City of London. She was therefore an authentic ‘cockney’ having been born within earshot of the bells of the City of London church, St. Mary-le-Bow.
When Rose was a child it was suspected that she had contracted tuberculosis and she was not allowed to attend school for three years. During those years she honed her reading skills at the ‘Palaseum’ a cinema in the Commercial Road, where she watched many silent films and read the sub titles.
As a teenager Rose enjoyed singing, dancing and acting and she performed in several shows organised by her local church. Even at the age of ninety eight she would sing for you at the drop of a hat. Visitors and care workers at the residential home where she spent her final years were often treated to her impromptu renderings of music hall songs as well as songs from the thirties, forties and fifties. Rose was also an accomplished dancer. In the 1920s she was an impressive performer of the Charleston and was much in demand for Charleston competitions.
Despite her obvious talents, sadly, Rose did not become a professional performer, which was her dearest wish. She came to her maturity in the depressed 1920s and 30s when money was short. She became an apprentice in the tailoring industry and later specialised in hand finished ladies’ and gentlemen’s fashions. At one stage she was privileged to work on Norman Hartnell designs.
Rose was deeply affected by her wartime experiences and often reminded her family that she had experienced two world wars.
During the First World War she spent a brief period in a sanatorium on the south coast and heard daily the sound of gunfire from across the channel. Members of her own family narrowly escaped death when their home in Bow, East London, was bombed during a Zeppelin raid, and she herself witnessed a Zeppelin burning and crashing over London. Her wartime anxiety was increased by the knowledge that her father was engaged in delivering ammunition to the Western Front.
Many years later, in the late summer of 1940, Rose was on a working holiday with her family and friends in the Kentish hop fields when she witnessed the Battle of Britain. It was both fascinating and chilling to hear her detailed accounts of this struggle in the skies. She also vividly recalled being fired upon by an enemy aeroplane and having to seek refuge in a nearby cottage.
However, her most horrifying recollection of the Second World War was when she learnt that the factory in which her dear, younger sister was working, making military uniforms, had received a direct hit during an air raid. Fortunately, although injured, her sister survived and made a full recovery.
Later in the war, Rose was transferred to Nottingham under the Direction of Labour Scheme. There, she worked in a munitions factory and learned how to use a precision instrument called a micrometer. She was immensely proud of this achievement.
One of the highlights of Rose’s life was when she visited America at the age of sixty eight in the company of her lifelong friend Nell Clancy. They stayed with Nell’s son in Connecticut and Rose often recalled with tremendous pleasure visiting New York and Salem, Massachusetts.
In her early seventies Rose became the secretary of her local Senior Citizens' club in Tower Hamlets. She organised many trips and social events and was rejuvenated by this role, which provided her with many outlets for her boundless sociability and gregarious nature.
Rose continued to live in her own flat in the East End of London until her 94th year. Eventually, however, independent living was no longer an option for her. She became ill and consequently agreed that it was time to move into a residential home which she did in 2002.
On 4th August 2006, after a short illness, Rose died peacefully in her sleep. She was ninety eight years old.
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