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Marilyn Mitchell looks back at her family’s arrival in Pembroke Dock over 100 years ago.

My Grandfather Charlie, his brothers, and their sister were all born at Hean Castle, Saundersfoot, in the second half of the nineteenth century. Whilst most of them stayed around the village, one left for Australia and another brother, Thomas, moved to Pembroke Dock to continue his trade as a blacksmith in the Royal Dockyard. So began the connection.

He then transferred to Malta in the late 1800s; the fact that his wife was there with him seems to indicate that he was, perhaps, in a more managerial position. Their first child was born there, sadly though, when only about 6 weeks old he was dropped by his Maltese nanny and died. A second son, George, born later in Malta, became a town councillor in nearby Pembroke.

On returning to Pembroke Dock, the family made their home at 37A North Street, just up the road from where I now live. Five more children followed, but sadly the youngest, Dorothy, died in infancy. George and younger brother Charlie followed their father into the dockyard to work as shipwrights. Charlie apparently excelled in his trade. Tragedy struck again though, and, after an horrific incident at work he never worked again. Charlie was too traumatised, eventually moving to live with sister Winnie in the valleys.

Lilian married and moved with her husband, a dockyard worker, to live in Portsmouth. Vera, her husband and son went to live near Cardiff. Lizzie married a local man, George Dix. He became the Gas Board Superintendent in Pembroke Dock and was awarded the BEM for his services to the gas industry. We pass their old home at 15 London Road frequently and have fond memories of them living there.

During the First World War, the two sons of Granfer's ‘Australian’ brother came to Pembroke Dock to the Defensible Barracks as part of their deployment on their journey to fight in France. I have a photo of them with the family at 37A North Street. What are the chances that you travel halfway around the world to be stationed a quarter of a mile from your family? They both survived the Battle of the Somme and returned home safely to Australia.

Two of my cousins, sisters, met and married ground crew based with the Sunderland Flying Boats here in Pembroke Dock, around the Second World War. Three more cousins, brothers, were employed here in and around the dockyard around the same time. The eldest was a Captain with the RFA, Moorings and Salvage. I think he began as a cook and once received a glowing compliment from HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, for a dessert he made. He retired from his career aboard RFA Helmstead after interludes in Malta and Hong Kong.

One of my treasures is a photo postcard from 1908 of Saundersfoot Carnival. Probably Granfer was in the photo as he was involved with sport and carnivals. Granfer wrote this postcard in the same house where from 1901 until 1946 my aunts, uncle, mother, cousins and I were all born, and our son was brought to live when only two days old. By this time, we had returned from Pembroke Dock to live in Saundersfoot. Granfer sent this postcard to his niece, Lizzie, at 37A North Street. It was returned to me by post 114 years later via descendants in Porthsmouth and Cardiff to me at 10 North Street. Not many people have such a long connection with a village, Saundersfoot, and a town, Pembroke Dock, for 122 years. I feel privileged.

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