(1893-Died) Frank Robins Maddocks & Gertrude Minnie Lerwill (Born-Died)
Ronnie Frank Maddocks
(1915 to 2002)
(1918 to 1990)
(1925 to 1961)

Frank Robbins Maddocks

Frank Robbins Maddocks was born on the 22nd March 1893 and in the 1901 census Franks father now 42 and an Inspector lived at 7 King Street, Bristol with his wife Emma, son Henry Maddocks aged 17; a solicitor's clerk and Frank Robbins Maddocks was aged 8yrs. Son Frank Robbin Maddocks at the age of 16, wanted to follow his father's footsteps and join the police force namely the London met. His father was against this and used his influence with the police to stop him due to his height (he hadn't finished growing at 16 yrs). He took a job instead with Daws outfitters (Sammy Daws) in Barnstaple high street, it was at this time he meet Gertrude Minnie Lerwill. Having spent his formative years in Bristol, he moved back with his brother Henry and soon had a job in a solicitor's office. The job included typing risqué reports (divorce reports which they didn't like to give to the girls) and learnt typing and shorthand. Gertrude by now had moved from Devon to Bristol and taken a job at Frenchay Hospital, which was a mental hospital at that time. Gertrude became ill so Frank and Gertrude decided to marry in 1914. He then took a job working in a doctor's reception, then he decided to join the army in 1915 to fight in the Great War. Frank was posted to Sittingborne in Kent, Gertrude went with him and in 1915 son Ronnie Frank Maddocks was born. Shortly after Ronnie's birth, they found out that they had been married out of registrar's hours. So they had to remarry on the 22nd June 1916 both aged 23. Frank's father was now an inspector retired and Gertrude's father a butcher in Pontypridd Glamorgan Wales.

{Gertrude Minnie Maddocks}

Gertrude Minnie Maddocks (nee Lerwell)

Frank was taken ill with a hernia and went into hospital. Then in 1918 Audrey Maddocks was born and when he came out of hospital the armistice was declared. Frank was posted to India in 1919 and in 1920 Gertrude joined him. At this point he sign on again because of the lack of work back in England, so stayed in India in the house at Gharial. In 1921 Bryon was born, Derek in 1925 and Stella Isobel in 1927.

{The family in India}

In 1931 the family returned for a years leave (you could save up your leave) and stayed at Braunton. Frank's father and 2nd wife Louise were living at Wrafton by now. With them came all but their eldest son Ronnie who had enlisted in the army in India. Their next leave was in 1935; they had Christmas on the boat coming back. This was because of the Quetta earthquake and they were stationed at Quetta. Son Ronnie and Father Frank stayed in India. Ronnie was in the army now and Frank had to drive down to his next posting at Kirkee in India. On there arrival in North Devon, Mrs. Maddocks was interviewed by the local paper, and the article is transcribed below.


MARCH 14TH 1912


Returned North Devonian's Vivid Earthquake Story Every boat from India brings survivors of the terrible earthquake that devastated Quetta. Among the party that returned to England is Mrs. F. Maddocks, her two small sons, baby daughter, and elder daughter, who lately arrived in Barnstaple. Mr Maddocks is attached to the Indian army ordinance corps, and the family lived near the Arsenal and about five minutes from the center of the city, so it was a vivid tale that Mrs Maddocks was able to tall a "Herald" representative. "I do not know quite what awakened me," she said, " but it was a little while before the actual shock that I woke and realised what was coming, I roused my husband ran into the boy's bedroom and told them to go to their daddy. Then I went to the girl's bedroom, and just as I was picking up my little girl the shock came. It felt like being in a swing; the room seemed to sway left and right and then upwards. Curiously the plaster on the walls went one way and the bricks another. I was fortune enough to be hit by the plaster and not the bricks. I was half buried and pinned still in the attitude of leaning over the bed. My elder daughter, who had been sitting up in bed bewildered and almost stupefied, was just able to take the little girl from under me, and she was quite unhurt." The remarkable thing was she proceeded, that although the room collapsed almost entirely a small night-light on the mantelpiece remained still and alight, which helped them to avoid panic. A number of people, she added might have been saved from suffocation if they had been seen sooner. Naturally the electric light had vary wisely been cut off, leaving the town in complete darkness. Mr Maddocks and one of the little boys, thinking that Mrs Maddocks and the girls had run right through the bungalow and were outside, went out and started calling for them. Meanwhile the other little boy stumbled into his sisters room, where he stayed clinging to his elder sisters hand. "Just how I got outside I cannot think," Mrs Maddocks said. "I just found my self there, and not much hurt except; for a few bruises. We were so relieved to find that we were all safe, that we did not care what we had lost, or how much the house was damaged - we were all there and nothing else mattered. Mr Maddocks, of coarse reported for duty at ounce, and the servants and I were left to the work of salvage. Only two of the rooms had collapsed, the bedroom and the sitting room, which were in line with one another and apparently on the line that the earthquake had taken. The rest of the rooms were in confusion, but not seriously damaged."

{Thier Home after the quake}

Frank in front of thier home

The line of the earthquake Mrs Maddocks described as being vary marked, and further shocks were felt in the same places at the same time on the following night. "The first thing we did after we had saved some of the stores," she proceeded, "was to make some tea, which we shared with our neighbours. Then my husband came back for a short while, and realizing we should have no milk in the morning he and my daughter set off for a small shop situated on the road into the city, where they hoped to get some tins of milk. There first shock came when they started to walk down the broad main road. The tall lamp standards in the centre were standing as usual, but the brick walls on both sides were spread out on the ground, the bricks flung aside like child's toys. Then they came to what had been the shop. It was flat on the ground-tumbled down like a house of cards." Mrs. Maddocks declared that the military authorities and the men deserved all the praise they had received. "They were wonderful," she said. "By 4 o'clock less than hour after the shock tents, blankets, and emergency rations were being issued, rescue work was in progress, and doctors and nurses were working without stopping, Throughout the following days the men worked ceaselessly at digging and rescue work-from early morning till midnight." The few days that Mrs. Maddocks and the children remained in Quetta she described as being more trying than the actual earthquake. A series of small shocks took place at that time, and the continual strain of waiting for them, combined with the awful atmosphere of desolation and tragedy, was terrible, "Ours was a terrifying experience whilst it lasted," she added, "but afterwards we realised that it was nothing compared with what others had suffered," In their district, she continued, they were comparatively lucky; it was in the crowed bazaar, where the streets were but a few yards wide and where dozens slept in one room, that the worst tragedies occurred. Out of a family of 36 people, in the district, the sole survivor was a little boy of four years old. Mrs Maddocks said that she could not bear to go into the worst parts; it was too terrible. It was terrible to think that scores of clerks and trades people she had been acquainted with were suffocated and injured under the ruins of their homes. Of the parts she did see, they looked as though they had been bombed; they were exactly like the photographs she had seen of devastated war areas. Quetta, Mrs. Maddocks said had been vary proud of its beautiful vegetable market - a square of pillared buildings with stalls erected between the pillars, all of which were elaborately made and ornamented. Now it was all gone, and the pillars lay on the ground. Vegetables, she added, were the things most missed during the remaining days there. They existed at first on dried and tinned foods, and later about 300 head of cattle were rounded up and killed for food. But the meat was extremely dry, tough and tasteless, so that the only way to eat it was when minced - a rather monotonous diet. All the surviving Indian population were mustered on the race coarse, where they were given tents and rations, and she considered they were extremely grateful to the authorities for their work. One old man told her that they did not know what they would have done without the British powers of organisation. Mrs. Maddocks heard many sad tales, and one in particular that she related was of a young nurse who rushed to save her charges, and had just seized a baby when the shock came. She was pined to the ground with the child underneath her, unable to move an inch and knowing all the time that the child was dying of suffocation. When she was rescued the baby was dead. Perhaps the most pathetic scenes were about the civilian hospital; it was completely wreaked, and all the patients and further casualties had to be taken to the military hospital. There they were laid out in rows upon the floor for lack of beds. Later these patients were drafted away in hospital trains. On the Monday after the earthquake Mrs. Maddocks and her children, together with other woman and children bound for England, were sent to Karachi, since the Quetta was considered to dangerous for them. Mustered on the racecourse, when they were at Karachi they camped in tents again, and then embarked for England. Mr. Maddocks remained in Quetta to assist with the enormous amount of work that still has to be done there. Mrs. Maddocks hopes to go back to India again in about six months time, but not of course to Quetta. "I should think it would take two years," she said, "just to clear up the mess, without any re-building."

{The photo from the article}

This is the Maddocks family on their return from Quetta.

Left to Right Derek, Audrey, and Gertrude with Stella and Bryon.

(Stella remembers having to stay in the back of the house and sleeping in tent in the back garden in case of a second quake, they weren't aloud to go to the front of the house because of the piles of bodies from the bizarre. They were put on a train for Karachi, which was a long slow journey without any water, but before they left the kettle was filled with hot water from the engine and tea was made. The only food they had was ice cream wafers with butter.)

After 6 months the family returned to India leaving Bryon back in England at the army collage at Chepstow. After a month at Kirkee they spent 6 months at Poona before returning to Kirkee for an 18-month spell until 1940. By now Ronnie had returned to England because of the war Sept 16th 1939 married Grace, and then in that year was sent to France to fight. It was in 1941 that they had their first-born Roger, who sadly died after 11 days. Bryon by this time had been called up to fight, and in 1942 was married to Betty his first wife.

It was while at Kirkee that Audrey met and married Albert Wambach an Austrian civilian worker. They had two girls Stella in 1941 and Susan in 1943. Meanwhile in 1941 Frank, Gertrude, Derek and Stella moved to Lahore. Good news in 1942 from England was that Ronnie and Grace had a son Malcolm. It was living at Lahore that they had Alice their mongoose. By 1943 Derek was called up for national service in the R.E.M.E.

In 1945 Frank, Gertrude and Stella returned to England to Wallington Surrey for a couple of months, then to a flat in Newport, Barnstaple at the end of 1945. Audrey had to return under her own steam as a civilian (the family paid for her passage). After 3 months at Newport they moved to Pilton Abbey, Pilton, Barnstaple in 1946. A short while after on the 23rd March 1947 Frank Robbins Maddocks died of coronary thrombosis and was burried in Pilton church cemertry.

{home page}