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Alan Birley Bateman – his place in our family

October 8, 2009


Alan Birley Bateman

6 October 1915 – 23 February 2001

The wartime story of this brave man deserves to be told. In order to place him within my family, I need to introduce the following ;

Alan was married to my mother’s cousin, Margaret Bateman. My Grandmother and Margaret’s mother were sisters, making my mother and Margaret cousins.

My many conversations with his wife, Margaret Bateman, have been incredibly revealing, and important to record, as so much history is lost when family members die. The following is a record of Margaret’s memories of Alan and his family, and her connection with them.

Alan was born on the 6th October 1915, in Isleworth, Middlesex, England. Alan’s father, whom he refers to in his war letters as Bill, was one of five children, but of these 5, only he had children; Constance, who was killed in a car crash, Alan, and Betty.

Margaret met Alan on the 21st January 1949, as she worked in the local council housing department, and he was the Deputy Town Clerk. They married at St Peter’s Church, Woodmanston, Surrey on the 17th February 1960.

Margaret and Alan tried hard for a family for many years, and eventually the couple were blessed with a daughter, Mary, born in 1968, only six months before I was born. There are several photos in existence of Mary and I together in infancy, but tragically Mary died, aged 5 years old, of Leukaemia. At about the same time, an agreement was made between my parents and Margaret and Alan, whereby should anything happen to my parents, my brother and I would be placed in the care of Margaret and Alan as guardians, to be brought up as their own.. The care and interest that Margaret in particular has shown towards me and my family has been fantastic and much appreciated, and I know my children count her as a Grandparent.

Alan died in 2001, and I remember him vividly as a true gentleman, kind, calm and generous, with a gentle sense of humour, and an utter devotion towards Margaret. Indeed I can still see the two of them cuddling in the kitchen, and the love and respect shown between them was deep and mutual. To this day, the wooden chair that he used to sit on in the kitchen still has pride of place, and to see it reminds me of him with a smile.

Margaret and Alan in 1988
Margaret and Alan in 1988

It is in the above context, that I write about Alan, a cherished, loved and fondly remembered  Gentleman, and his wartime experiences as a brave bomber pilot and prisoner of war in Stalagluft 3.

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