My Paternal Family
Auntie: Ada Strong/Littlefield/Hitchman nee Wray (bn 1896)
Ada was the ninth child born to Alfred and Emily Wray on 9 April 1898. She was baptized at St Martins, Preston, Herts on 14 October 1902. As a young woman, Ada went into service as a ‘tweenie’ at the nearby Bowes Lyon Estate, St Pauls Walden which was the occasional home of Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. She married William Charles Strong, who was a golf course groundsman, at Eton during the summer of 1919. William was gassed while fighting during World War 1 and died on 26 September 1921 at Burnham. His legacy was a daughter, Frances Strong (known as Mary), who was born on 14 March 1920. (Ada and Mary are pictured above.) William’s war record is on-line. He enlisted at Slough on 11 September 1916, aged seventeen (being born in early 1899 at Burnham) and was 5’ 10” tall. His address at the time was 3 Windsor Cottages, Burnham, Bucks and he was working as Golf Club employee. William served in three Regiments: Royal Welsh Fusiliers (No 82246), Worcestershire Regiment (62440) and 2nd Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry (47279). It appears that his only service overseas was with the British Expeditionary Force in France during March 1918. William was discharged initially on 3 September 1919, re-enlisted and was finally discharged on 26 September 1919. Around this time he was admitted to the Central Military Hospital, Cork, Ireland. He began his service with an A1 health assessment, but when discharged, he had a 40% disablement. He was awarded the Silver War Badge because of ‘sickness’ (see below) He received a weekly pension of 16/- as a result. William began his service as a Private and ended as an Acting Corporal.
In June 1921, William was apparently living with his father, George, at Burnham. Ada and Mary were visiting Frank (a native of Preston) and Florence Brown at The Slip, Knebworth, Herts:
Ada, now a young widow, returned to Hitchin and to domestic work. She married Frank Littlefield at Luton toward the end of 1928. On 1 March 1929, their son, Eric Frank Littlefield, was born in Luton. Frank and Ada then moved to London. Meanwhile, Mary Strong spent by far the the majority of her young life in the Wray household at Chequers Cottages, Preston. Aged five, she was admitted to Preston School on 27 March 1925 and Alfred Wray was noted as her guardian. Mary attended the school until 1 June 1934. This explains why Mary features in so many of the photographs taken at Preston around this time:
Between 1933 and 1938, Frank and Ada lived at 114 Hither Green Lane, Lewisham, London which was probably a flat above a row of shops (see below). Frank was working as a pipe layer. When World War Two began, Frank enlisted in the army where he served at El Alamein as one of the ‘Desert Rats’. Ada worked in a bottle factory at Charlton, London while Eric was evacuated to Kent.
The middle photograph is of Mary with Eileen Newell (top) and Betty (nee Davis) Palmer
Ada with Frank Littlefield and Mary Strong
In 1946, Frank began working as a labourer in the building trade and Ada worked as a ‘domestic’ in a hospital at Grove Park. They lived at 11 Charsley Road, Lewisham and regularly went to The Joiners Arms in Lewisham where  they made friends with Charlie Hitchman (not ‘Hitcham’ as shown in the 139 Register). Charlie was a confirmed batchelor and became their lodger.  When Frank was diagnosed with cancer and died in the summer of 1965, it seemed to be a natural progression for Ada to marry Charlie at Lewisham in the summer of 1973. Charlie was twenty-four years younger than his bride. Ada died at Lewisham towards the end of 1993.
Eric Littlefield’s wedding reception in 1951. Ada and Frank are with Ada’s daughter, Mary (now Newbury), and her two children.
Ada was an excellent cook and it is thought she worked in London for a judge and also opened a small cafe there. She made her own Christmas puddings (which all the children stirred - for luck). One year she added so much spirit to the pudding that, when it was lit, nearly blew the windows out! She was a little strait-laced and ‘didn’t have much education’ - she couldn’t write very well and did very little reading.
Ada’s comment on the enumerator’s record that she was her ‘Mother’s help’ is perhaps illuminating. There was certainly a need for someone to help Emily. At this time, Alfred had probably recently lost a leg and needed nursing; there were five sons living at home and Maggie (13). Of Emily’s other daughters, Alice and Carrie were married, Flossie was in India and Nan was working in London. Despite her husband’s poor health, Ada accepted the responsibility of helping Emily, even if only temporarily - her husband, William, was to die three months later. Frank was born at Catford, near Lewisham, London on 20 August 1901. His father, Frank senior, was the manager of a dairy. The family (including Frank junior) moved to Luton between 1918 and 1921. Frank snr was now working for a local dairy, Crawley Green Dairy, and featured in a news report in August 1923:
Frank Littlefield junior
Frank jnr enlisted in the Merchant Navy during WW1 and was a Captain’s Boy in 1920. He continued as a mariner after the war and was awarded the Mercantile Marine Medal and ribbon in early 1926 when his address was given as High Street, Sydenham, Kent.
Of Mary Frances Strong
Mary married a native of Hitchin, Lionel Francis Newbury, on 4 June 1938 at Islington, London.
In September 1939, the couple were living at 51 Stevenage Road, Hitchin. They had two daughters, Madeline F (born at Hitchin, 1940) and Patricia (Patsy) K (1943).
Far left, Ada Wray; Mary Newbury, Madeline Newbury; man to Madeline’s right, Trevor Pugh; lady with white bag, Gillian Whitby; lady in white coat, Patsy Newbury; woman to Patsy’s left, Maggie Whitby; man far right, Ron Whitby
Of Eric Frank Littlefield
Eric was born on 1 March 1929 at Luton. The 1939 Register notes him as a schoolboy at Uckfield, Sussex. In the summer of 1951, He married Dorothy L Brunt at Southsea, Portsmouth. The couple had two children, Alan J Littlefield (born Lewisham RD 1953) and Christine (1956)
Far l: Lionel and Mary Newbury; behind them, my father, Sam Wray; the seated boy is me; behind groom are my mother and Flossie Sugden; Ada is behind the married couple.