Christine was born in Derby on Christmas Eve 1922. According to Diana, she suffered from Rheumatic Fever and St Vitus' Dance between the ages of 9 and 11, which meant she missed a great deal of school and found it difficult to then make up the lost ground.

Hettie took Christine and Mick to Pond Hall when their father was called up (Tony, her eldest child, was already a Royal Artillery Apprentice by that time) and Christine took various local jobs as children's nurse or mother's help. She then became a nurse at Colchester hospital in 1942. From there she became a VAD or (depending on who you ask) a member of Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, and served the rest of the war in Ceylon, India and, perhaps, Burma.

Christine and Don's Wedding

She married Donald John Elliott, a Cornishman and Fleet Air Arm pilot, in April 1948. Rosy Ind remembers, "We went to their wedding in Felixstowe. She was exquisitely pretty, in a sky blue suit with a straight skirt and a little blue hat to match. I think it had little yellow flowers but I might be remembering her pretty hair. Marigold and I were impressed by Don's friends- dashing Naval pilots". But Christine's happiness was shortlived as Don died in an aircraft accident in the Arctic Circle a year later, a week after the birth of their daughter, Rosaleen. Apparently Don had heard of his daughter's birth before the accident and had sent a reply telegram saying, "Great balls of fire!". Christine and Rosie went to live with Hettie in Felixstowe and moved with her to Pond Hall when 'Grandpa' died.

Later on, Christine worked as a boarding school matron and Rosie spent many of her holidays from the Royal Naval School for Girls in Haslemere at Pond Hall, becoming very close to her grandmother, Hettie. Christine had a flat at Cornard in Suffolk for a while and, at some stage, lived in Royal Naval Cottages, off St John's Road in Penge, described on www.london-footprints.co.uk as "attractive almshouses of 1848. These were built at the request of Queen Adelaide, in memory of her husband William IV, as a Royal Naval Asylum for 12 widows or orphan daughters of officers. Designed by Philip Hardwick in a Tudor style they are now private residences". Christine moved to St Leonard's on Sea in 1965 and when Hettie left Pond Hall she moved to an army widow's flat there, too. The photo shows Christine with Rosaleen and Vashti, who is holding her granddaughter, Laura. (It is possible that Christine lived in Penge after St Leonard's on Sea rather than before).

Mick Billing thought Christine's husband Don had been killed in a Walrus accident, possibly on a Search and Rescue operation, so I put a plea for information in the Fleet Air Arm Officers' News Sheet. Within days of publication I had a phone call from Ronald Maclean (now a retired academic) in Scotland. Ron knew a Don Elliott at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Eglinton or RNAS Maydown in Londonderry in 1946/7. After Ron had demobbed and returned to academe, around November 1947 he bumped into officers he knew from Eglinton in Oxford, the group including Don, he thought. They were by then at RNAS Culham on an aircraft conversion course. He remembered Don trying to persuade him to get in touch with a lovelorn Colleen back in Londonderry.

I then had the following information by email from Allan Kerry:

"In Feb 1949 I was in HMS Vengeance which was carrying out Arctic trials, somewhere around Jan Mayen Island I think - anyway, somewhere in the Arctic circle. I personally witnessed the loss of a Sea Otter, which landed on after flying around the ice floes. The aircraft caught a wire on touchdown, bounced and slithered sideways over the port side. It sank out of sight and there was no way to salvage it.

I know for sure that the pilot's name was Lieutenant Elliott and that he wore a beard. The aircrew in Vengeance were a mixed bag, with no common squadron identity - the whole idea of the mission was to test the ship and a variety of aircraft in severe winter conditions. For example, the bows sprang a leak after hitting pack ice and a crack appeared in the metal flight deck. The weather and sea conditions were so bad that we managed only four days flying in that area".

Christine 1948

Subsequently, Jim Summerlee, an old colleague of Don's, telephoned and told me the story of their flying training together - in Canada, out of the way of the war - and their shared experiences as ferry pilots, operating out of RNAS Anthorne, a small airfield near Carlisle, in 1946/47. He remarked on Don's integrity, good nature, sense of humour and excellent singing voice after a glass or two in the Mess.