When one thing leads to another

The fascinating part of researching World War 1 stories for this site is you are never quite sure what may turn up next - or when or where.

For instance, I had never heard of Violet Golding, one of the people featured. As a 16-year-old she lost a finger and thumb of her left hand and suffered burns to her arm in an accident at the George Kent's munitions factory at Chaul End in 1917. She received a medal for her courage in returning to work there three months after the accident.

Her story came to my attention purely by chance, thanks to finding an article by Herald & Post reporter John Kesby more than 80 years later - in 1999. Subsequently, again by chance, I came across a slightly later article by John Kesby in which Violet's daughter Beryl was featured holding the medal of the Order of the British Empire awarded to Violet in 1918, plus the teenager's munitions factory badge. Thanks to Herald & Post staff, I have traced that picture and included close-ups of the medal and badge on the Violet Golding post.

The later article also gave a small insight into Violet herself.

“My mother was a very quiet and unassuming sort of woman,” said Beryl. “But she did talk quite a bit about the years when she worked at Kent's.

“She also told how she had seen Zeppelins coming over and she mentioned the 'canary girls'. The girls were handling TNT explosives and were stained yellow as a result and became known as canary girls.”

Beryl also recalled that during World War Two her mother became involved in helping a new war effort. Violet was by then living in Houghton Regis, then still a village, and she joined the local Women's Institute with whom, despite her teenage injuries, she knitted balaclavas for troops at the front.

Violet had married Benjamin Frederick Meachem in late 1927. Daughter Beryl was born in May 1929 and sister Marie in 1931. Benjamin died in February 1954, aged 53, and is buried in All Saints churchyard, Houghton Regis, along with Beryl, who died in February 2003, and her husband Percy Abbitt (born in March 1922, died in June 2001).

Three names on the gravestone - but what of Violet? It would appear she in fact remarried in 1958, four years after the death of Benjamin, and died in 1977 at the age of 77.