John Hislop was an officer in the 2nd and then 5th Battalion IXJat Regiment. What does that conjure up: wealthy, upper middle class, military family? On one count you would be right as John did come from a line of Hislops who went to war, both John’s father and grandfather were soldiers, but they were certainly not wealthy. John’s grandfather (also named John Hislop) was a waiter before enlisting at the age of 24; he rose to the rank of Sergeant Major. His son, John's father and my grandfather, Joseph Archibald Martin (known as Archie) enlisted in the ranks of the Bedfordshire Regiment as a boy solider in 1891. In 1910 my grandfather married Ethel Lines from Norfolk who was an English teacher. My grandfather's military service record shows that he was commissioned from the ranks in 1914 having been granted a commission as Quarter Master Honorary Lieutenant Bedfordshire Regiment; he retired as Captain in 1928.
John’s older sister, Anne Mary Margaret or, as she was commonly known, Peggy, was born in 1911 and John Archibald Hislop was born in 1913. From 1915 to 1919 the two children and their mother lived in Rutherglen, “a not very nice suburb of Glasgow”, writes John Hislop. He describes the house as:
“frankly a back to back slum with sketchy lavatory arrangements and no bathroom. Peggy and I were washed in the kitchen sink and had a bath in a tin tub once a week before the kitchen fire. We had porridge for breakfast every day and I have hated the wretched stuff every since.”
A letter from my grandfather to my grandmother, dated 22nd June 1915, has survived; it tells her of his love for her “and the kiddies." My grandfather carried the photo (below on the left) in a wallet throughout the war; behind the photo I found two golden locks of hair, one slightly darker than the other.
John writes that his first
memory of his father was, at four years old, seeing his mother throwing
herself into the arms of a stranger in khaki; Philip Henry born in 1918
was the result of that leave. After the war a further three children
were born; Archibald William (Bill) in 1920, Marion Ethel in 1922 and
Richard Duncan (Dick) in 1924. In the photograph below you can see,
from the left, Philip, Marion, Dick, Ethel and Bill (see
Hislop family tree).