Why Bernard is Bernard

Bernhard Olthoff is a 37-year-old mariner, when on the 20th June 1882 he marries my grandmother’s grandmother Johanna Klingebiel. Both live in Shadwell, East London and it is at the local parish church the wedding takes place. Witnesses are Adelaide Grannemann and Jacob Schaumlöffel which witnesses on the German speaking community they must have belonged to.

By this time Johanna already had 2 children Henry William (14 years old) and my great grandmother Johanna Dorotea  ( 3 years old). Both these children and the deceased Arthur Henry Fredrik had the surname Rump. We have not been able to find anything on the mysterious Rump but Johanna most certainly came to England via Southampton where the oldest boy was born.

Bernhard became a father to these children and he must have been a most liked person as his name lived on never having himself any own children.

Henry Rump married Nancy Parker in 1892 and gives his daughter born in 1901 the name Johanna Bernhardine and his youngest son born in 1903 is Bernard.

Johanna Dorotea also wanted to Bernardise her children  so her son William my grandmother’s brother was christened William Bernard Ernest. My grandmother might have remembered Bernhard as she was 5 when he died because her son Bernard Ineichen is Bernard.

Bernhard Olthoff dies in 1905 and is buried at the Tower Hamlets cemetery having outlived Johanna by 6 years.

Hope the ancestry map above will help to keep track of the Bernards.

Farewell Dennis

Pollards hill

Most of us learn in time to understand that we all are different. Uncle Dennis and I did not always hit it well, but whether it was for conflicting personalities or the flow of circumstances is not important any longer. I choose today to remember you, Dennis Frith, for the man you were, and my memories attached to you.

My first encounter, that I remember, was visiting the family in the late fifties at your house in Thornton Heath. I remember that from the back window I could see a large cemetery. But most of all you made cakes at home. I believe somehow that you were beginning your successful career in the business of pastry. The smell and looks of sugar icing and whipped cream is something that no child can ignore. You were never one for hanging around chatting as I recall!

I did however get a better picture of you, when I took my big step, of starting a new life in 1968. Then, you and auntie Dot played a main role. By this time you had built up a considerable activity with several shops in the south of London and own production in what was called Frtith’s Patisserie. Your home and kitchens were in Barnes, so that’s where I came. You fixed me up with a room at Mrs Meltzer’s and gave me my first employment working at your office in Richmond. No one would ever ignore how important this was for me to start off my life as an adult.

Your favourite song was, for along time, Cliff Richard’s “Living Doll” and you did never miss an episode of the Forsythe Saga on television.

By this time you played tennis and had a passion for antiques. You were always in the look for a rare old painting and meticulously learned more. Whatever you did had a purpose and was well in line with the self made man you were. Rest in peace and thank you.

Foot note- In this picture from left to right- My grandmother Bua, auntie Dot, uncle Bernard, uncle Dennis, and my grandmother Dorothy Begernie Ineichen. Standing behind- my father João and my grandfather Joseph Ineichen. The picture was probably taken in 1951 in connection with my parents marriage on the 14 July.




The Blitz in Norbury

Messerschmidt 109      junkers 88   spitfire   

I have earlier mentioned my uncle Bernard as being a figure comparable to Indiana Jones. This description is of course more of a picture, one could make of someone somewhere out in the world, who  as a boy I seldom put my eyes on. A more true description is of a witty and contemplative academic with a degree in Sociology!

What I have learned from him recently is that my grandfather Joseph Ineichen used to serve as a warden on top of Pollard’s Hill during the Second World War.

During the Blitz, at the beginning of the war planes flew over London with different intentions. Some of them were set on bombing the city. The warden’s job was to recognize these different planes in order to warn and give the alarm so people could go down to their shelters.

The very young Bernard took an interest and studied a chart at the Warden’s post with pictures of different models. One day the Chief Warden came to visit and as he had heard of my uncle’s collected knowledge he decided to put him to the test by covering up the names on the different airplanes. After correctly identifying the Spitfire, Messerschmitt 109, and Junkers 88 there was an Italian plane that had never flown over London. The chief warden couldn’t name it but the young Bernard could.

We can only imagine the worries in the family as my grandfather was out all night on duty, whilst the rest of the family could from their beds or shelters hear as bombs crushed down not far away.

How many do you recognize?

Uncle Bernard, I presume?


My stays at Pollard’s Hill North were in the summers. Coming to London in the late fifties, early sixties was a special experience. For a start, transportation there, was by plane. A time when private flying was still rather exclusive.  Propeller plane BEA (British European Airways) the largest British airline that ceased in 1974. The flights started at night and the arrival was in early morning when invariably we were met by some rain in sheer contrast to the Lisbon hot weather.

 Not far from my Grandparents’ house one could still see ruins from the Second World War. Most homes had a shelter in their gardens. It was all very interesting. My grandfather went off up the road to play Bowls…A game as exotic as Cricket but perhaps with more accessible rules. I think you needed to be over a certain age in order to participate. At a distance you could catch a glimpse at the “old boys” dressed in white! Perhaps children were not allowed as the game of Bowls requires concentration.

 I stayed in my Uncle Bernard’s room.  Uncle Bernard Ineichen was not anyone you ever met. He was just the most exciting person anyone could imagine. An Indiana Jones of the period. In his room there were to be found relics of far away destinies. Things collected in Africa on mysterious expeditions. Photos in uniform in some Mediterranean hideout! Uncle Bernard’s life was an adventure and it was so I perceived it!