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The Mason Brigade
The Mason Brothers
The Mason Bothers
Time to Meet the Boys

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The Mason Brigade.

JOHN RICHARD was born in Meerut on 27th March 1911. He served as a captain in the Royal Artillery and was killed in 1941 before my birth in 1943. I don’t recall Mum ever speaking about him, not even when she was telling me about her brothers as small children. The only thing I ever remember her saying was that she had lost two brothers in motor cycle accidents, John and Bill, which was why she was so fearful when my own brother John acquired a motor cycle.

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brother John Richard.

PETER ANTHONY was also born in Meerut on 20th June 1912. He served as Battery Sergeant Major in the Royal Artillery.

I don’t remember ever meeting him though I can remember longing to meet his children, my five cousins. I used to write to Cousin Mary when I was about ten years old but gradually we lost touch. Sadly Uncle Peter died from a heart attack in 1958.

Mum used to talk about Peter as the brother who used to tease her when she first started to wear makeup and seemingly he had a wonderful sense of fun.

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brother Peter Anthony.

WILLIAM JAMES was born in Lansdowne on 17th October 1914. According to mum he was an army despatch rider and was killed in 1948 in a head on collision with a lorry going round a bend. She would often comment on his big blue eyes.

Uncle Bill must have made a big impact on me, as I can clearly remember meeting him, only the once when I was a small girl of pre school age. I can clearly see him and Aunty Nora, both in uniforms, in our dining room in Paston Lane. They had either just got married or engaged. I think it was the former. Uncle Bill sat me on his knee at our dining room table and I was so excited.

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brother William James.

BASIL ROBERT was born in Allahabad on 13th July 1918. He served in the Royal Engineers throughout world war two. I remember him very well and with great fondness. Over the years he was a constant visitor to Paston Lane. When I was young, I hated his big bear hugs, but came to love them later in life. He played an important role in Mum’s later life. With eight years between them, he was the brother she probably spent most time with in India. The older brothers would be involved in more grown up pastimes during Mum’s school holidays and Michael, with a twelve year gap was possibly too young.

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brother Basil Robert.

MICHAEL FRANCIS was born in Chakrata on 15th October 1922. He served in the Royal Engineers throughout World War Two. I remember Uncle Michael well. He was also a regular visitor to Paston Lane, often accompanying Nana Mason. Unable to find better words to describe him, I can only say that he was the ‘Black sheep’ of the family. Mum and Dad would speak about him in hushed tones, though as a child I just remember him as a nice uncle that told me funny jokes and showed me tricks.

I think it was in about 1968 that the family lost touch with him despite great efforts by Uncle Robert (Basil) to track him down.

(I recently found out from the family tree created by my first and second cousins Paul and Martin, that he had died in Northampton in 1998).

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brother Michael Francis.

Most of mum’s stories about the ‘Brothers’ involve Basil. I think the reason for this is because of the difference in their ages. Mum was eight years older, so when she finished school at seventeen, remaining at home until she was twenty three, she would have watched him grow up between the ages of nine and fifteen.

Basil told that he remembered sitting around a fire with Indian children and listening to the old Indians telling stories. (Remember all of the Mason family spoke fluent Urdu). He also spoke about swimming in The Governor of India’s swimming pool at Christmas parties. Mum never mentioned either, but then not only was she the first born, but she was also a female - and females did not do, nor had the opportunity to do the same things as males at that time. It is also possible that her father was not on such close terms with the Governor in her early years.

Her brothers were all excellent swimmers but Mum never learnt to swim.

‘I can only swim with my big toe on the bottom,’ she told me many times.

Basil also recollected playing hockey on 31st May 1935, when the earthquake struck at Quetta and between 35,000 and 60,000 lives were lost. The land rolled under us and knocked the players to the ground, he said.

If ASBO’s had been about during this period, then it is my bet that the Mason Boys may have qualified for the Guinness book of records. And goodness only knows what Health and Safety’, the PC and even The Save our Planet mob would have had to say about their antics, not to mention Child Line and the strict discipline they got from their father.

One story Mum told me was of a time when the family lived in a colonial bungalow at the top of a hill on The Old Taj Road in Agra. Cont...

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The Story of Beatrice Mary Mason. Written by F. J. Louis | Copyright © 2009