Monday, 23 January 2017

BH Memoirs: V

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOHN MATTHEW BLAKISTON-HOUSTON DL (1898-1984), OF BELTRIM CASTLE, COUNTY TYRONE, AND RODDENS, COUNTY DOWN, WAS BORN AT ORANGEFIELD HOUSE, BELFAST


HE SERVED IN THE FIRST AND SECOND WORLD WARS; WAS AIDE-DE-CAMP TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF AUSTRALIA, 1929-30; HIGH SHERIFF OF COUNTY DOWN, 1944; DEPUTY LIEUTENANT OF COUNTY DOWN, 1946; HIGH SHERIFF OF COUNTY TYRONE, 1954


After a little leave at home I rejoined the 11th Hussars at Tidworth.

In the spring I got engaged to be married to Lettice Stobart, daughter of Harry Stobart of Yorkshire.

I had applied for the adjutancy of the Yorkshire Dragoons but was turned down on the grounds that I was a bachelor.

I had wanted to be in Yorkshire to see Lattice but I could not very well give this reason to the Colonel of the Yorkshire Dragoons!

We were married in July, 1931.

Then I was appointed Adjutant of the Cheshire Yeomanry and was to take over on 1st November, 1931.

After we were married we spent a fortnight in Norway and as it was not worth setting up a house for three months we started living in the Everleigh Hotel near Tadworth.

The rooms were small and the roofs were low and I kept bumping my head, so we decided to pitch a camp on Salisbury Plain and live in it.

We borrowed a large marquee from the Quartermaster and five bell tents.

We engaged an ex-naval chef and I had my soldier servant.

We had a map reference for a postal address but actually we were only 500 yards from Trevor Smail’s house.

George Paul spent a few weeks with us as a guest and during manoeuvres we had visitors from far and wide.

My mother-in-law came and spent a few days with us.

Then we moved up to Eccleston at the Duke of Westminster’s [Eaton Hall] gate and we lived there for the next four years.

Mary and Anne were both born there.

I worked hard with the Cheshire Yeomanry and enjoyed the work with these enthusiastic yeomen.

The men were particularly keen.

We hunted with both the Cheshire and Sir Watkin Wynn’s hounds but mostly with the latter.

I did a bit more flying while at Chester and obtained my “A” certificate but I was never a good pilot.

During the time I was at Chester my father died at Roddens.

After this I had to cross over to Ireland for a three day visit each month to attend to the farms and the estate.

First published in January, 2015.  Extracts by kind permission of RP Blakiston-Houston OBE JP DL

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