Julia Grego and Herbert “Minto’ Smith

Julia Grego Smith was my grandmother Maria Grego Frandi’s younger sister. The following post was written by Julia’s grandson, Larry Smith. 18 October 2015.

Images and text copyright to Anne Frandi-Coory All Rights Reserved 18 October 2015.

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Julia and Herbert Smith

Julia and Herbert Smith (image: Larry Smith)

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Julia Grego married Herbert (Minto) Smith of Great Hockham, Norfolk in 1920 at the Church of the Holy Rood in Watford town centre – after Minto’s return from First World War service in the Middle East. On the marriage certificate, Minto is described as a 25-year-old bachelor and engineer’s fitter of 31 Ashley Road, Watford; and Julia as a 20-year-old spinster of 193 St Albans Road, Watford. Her father was Filippo Grego, a greengrocer. Their witnesses were Edward F. Didd and Filippo Grego (who signed with a mark). Both of Julia’s parents, Raffaela and Filippo Grego were illiterate.

Minto’s father and grandfather were agricultural labourers.  At the age of 19 Minto enlisted in the 4th battalion of the Norfolk Regiment in Norwich in September 1914. The battalion was training at Colchester, but in May 1915 it moved to Watford, which is when Minto met Julia. Unfortunately we have no stories about how they happened to meet.

Minto’s battalion was deployed to the Mediterranean in July 1915 and landed at Suvla Bay, on the Gallipoli peninsula, on August 10 – some months after the initial ANZAC landings in April. The entire Gallipoli campaign against the Turks was a failure, with almost 400,000 casualties on both sides. All Allied forces were withdrawn by late December 1915. However, in early December Minto had contracted typhoid and was evacuated back to England. After a year’s convalescence he was deployed to Egypt in January 1917 and was wounded in the second battle of Gaza. He was later posted to garrison duties in Egypt and ended the war as an acting sergeant.

After being demobilised at Purfleet in Surrey in July 1919, he headed for Watford to meet up with Julia again. After their wedding, Minto and Julia lived in Watford for a time and he worked for Filippo Grego briefly in the fish and chip shop. They moved around a bit before settling in Ashford, Middlesex in about 1939. At various times he was a chauffeur, drove a hearse and worked in a diesel engine factory. Julia and Minto eventually had two sons, Douglas and Roy.

Douglas enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment in 1939 and was deployed to North Africa in 1942, serving in Egypt, Iraq, Libya and Italy. After the war he spent two years in New Zealand as an approved migrant under the assisted immigration scheme, but returned to England in 1954 and married Valerie Diamond (d. 2010) in 1956.They produced no children.

Julia’s younger son, Roy, enlisted in the Royal Air Force and was posted to the Bahamas, where he married Barbara Malone, a Bahamian, on Harbour Island in December 1944. Barbara was the eldest daughter of district commissioner Ronald Malone (originally of Hope Town, Abaco) and Una Higgs (of Spanish Wells, Eleuthera). Roy and Barbara Smith went on to have two children – Larry and Luanne.

The Bahamas had been a British Crown colony since 1718, and it was the chosen place of exile for the ex-King (the Duke of Windsor) who was appointed governor for the duration of the war. Nassau (the capital) was used by the RAF as a training base for bomber crews, flying twin-engine Mitchell B-25’s and four-engine Liberator B-24’s.

Leading aircraftman Roy Smith was posted to the RAF’s No. 250 Air-Sea Rescue Unit. Equipped with motor torpedo boats, their function was to rescue the crews of aircraft which came down at sea (about four or five a year), to co-operate with naval forces in the area hunting German submarines, and to tow bombing targets. Some 3,000 British and Canadian personnel were stationed in The Bahamas during the war.

There were no hostilities near the islands, so operational flying training could be undertaken safely, and there was good flying weather year-round. The location also enabled Canadian personnel to crew up with their RAF counterparts. After training at Nassau, many crews would join 45 Air Transport Group to ferry aircraft across the Atlantic for active service.

Roy was transferred back to England in early 1945, and Barbara followed him a few weeks after VE day via train from Miami and convoy from New York. They returned to Nassau in 1948 where Roy helped start a wholesale business.The Bahamas had a population of about 70,000 back then.

In 1955, after the wholesale business foundered, my parents, Roy and Barbara moved back to Britain with their two young children, running a succession of small shops around London. But during a family reunion in Nassau in December 1961, they decided to return to The Bahamas for good. Roy eventually became manager of a large car dealership called Nassau Motor Company, which holds the Honda and General Motors franchises for The Bahamas. He retired in 1985 to Spanish Wells, where he still lives today. Barbara died in December 2011 at the age of 84 from complications due to a ruptured appendix..

Barbara’s paternal line descends from the widow of a loyalist militiaman from South Carolina, who moved to the Bahamas after the American Revolution. Her maternal line traces back to the Eleutherian Adventurers, Puritans who settled The Bahamas in 1648 from Bermuda.

Julia was born 25 February  1900 in Watford and died 18 June 2000 at a nursing home in Ashford. Douglas Percival was born in 1921 and died in January 2012 at a nursing home in Egham. Minto was born in 1895 and died at his home in Ashford in 1981.

-Larry Smith

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Roy Smith's RAF crashboat

RAF Crash Boat Roy Smith served on during the war (image: Larry Smith)

 

 

 

 

 

 

early 19C parliament buildings Nassau

Early 19th Century Parliament buildings in downtown Nassau on a Sunday minus traffic. Statue of Queen Victoria resides over the town square (image: Larry Smith)

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joes-wedding

Julia’s sister Barbara Grego Johnson and brother  Joseph Grego double wedding.  

(image:Larry Smith)

Rear L to R: Filippo Grego, bride Floss’s brother, Jessie Grego with baby, bridegroom Joseph Grego, ?, bridegroom Laurie Johnson, Julia Grego, ?, Laurie Johnson’s father.

Front L to RPhilomena (Emmie) Grego, Raffaela Grego, bride Floss, bride Barbara Grego, Laurie Johnson’s mother, Lillie Grego.

 

Read More about the Grego family – Our Family Tree

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3 comments
  1. Hi Anne, I know I have said this before but, your family history is so interesting. It seems never ending so look forward to more. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anne said:

    Always great to hear your thoughts, Rita. Yes, I have so many stories to pass on, but I didn’t think many would be interested in this one. It has surprised me how many hits it has received on my blog and on twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

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