Prologue: the Harlows, the Sullivans, and Childhood.
Childhood is the happiest time of your life the saying goes. Sadly, not for me.
To understand why the years between 1939 and 1946, after childhood, were the happiest of my early life it is necessary to understanding my motives in volunteering for the Women’s Land Army (WLA), where I was happy. And it is also necessary to know something of my parents and home life. For my parents were ill matched, leading to marital discord and unhappy children. How they met I do not know – and it is for the imagination, but meet they did and married in World War I before father volunteered, and went to France to serve in the British Army.
John Harlow, My Father
My father, John James Harlow was the son of grandfather and grandmother Harlow. As I remember them he, Henry, presumably retired, was a neat man always well turned out with well polished black shoes, a watch chain across his waistcoat and a good head of hair. Grandmother was a rather a large and intimidating lady still working as a housekeeper/cook. Father had a brother, uncle Harry, and a sister, aunt Lucy, living in the Garston district of Liverpool. Father was a painter and decorator. His parents, the Harlows, were down to earth and practical with grandfather a man who kept to himself, and grandmother a good housekeeper living in a modest house, bright and clean as a new pin and having a lovely garden that daughter Lucy tended. The Harlows were, I believe, an old Liverpool Catholic family, but beyond that I know little.
Eileen Sullivan, My Mother
My mother Eileen Agnes Sullivan, came from a totally different background. She was the daughter of grandfather Michael Sullivan and grandmother Kate Agnes Sullivan, she however called herself Catherine. Michael and Catherine had a large family, John Felix (1888-1959), Mary Alice (1889-1978), Myles Michael (1891-1917), Kate Anne (1892-1915), Eileen Agnes, mother, (1895-1976), Monica Margaret (1897-1966), James Patrick (1900-1982), Leo Benedict (1903-1908), and Joseph (1904-1922). They lived in large Edwardian house on Osbourne Street in the well to do district of Tuebrook. Mother brought up genteelly in this family, was I believe, before marriage working as a milliner in Bold Street, Liverpool.