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Reginald Drury

b. 1918   d. 1980

(Back to Father)

Reginald Walter Leslie Drury was the younger son of Joseph James and Ellen Drury. He was born 5th. November 1918 at 125, Kingston Rd. Coventry.

Reg attended Centaur Rd. school, now called Hearsall School, until he was eleven years old. He left there and went to Bablake Grammar School, now part of Coventry Schools, as a fee paying pupil. The fees were £3.0s.0d per term ( compared with £2000 per term in 1995) , and he remained there until the age of s ixteen when he left and went to work at Brico Ltd., a firm specialising in the manufacture of pistons.

Whilst at Brico he was hit in the face, just above the right eye, by a piece of metal and although the injury itself did not appear to be serious it was to prove almost fatal. Later that year he developed Scarlet Fever and Diphtheria and was admitted to Whitley Isolation Hospital, Coventry. He recovered from his illness but two weeks later developed a massive abscess in his right frontal sinus where he had been injured earlier that year. He underwent surgery to remove the infection and to drain the sinus, antibiotics being almost non- existent at this time. He underwent further surgery shortly after to clean the sinus and repair the damage. He was fortunate not to have died and he carried the scars above his eye for the rest of his life.

Coventry was a major centre for engineering and when war was declared on Germany on 3rd. September 1939 it was inevitable that it would feature high on the list of targets for German bombing. Both Reg and his brother were exempt war duty, his brother because of his work in engineering and Reg. because he worked in local government.

At the commencement of war, Reg. was on fire watch and was hit by a blast which caused severe haemorrhaging from his lungs but X-rays and tests found no damage and he was allowed back to work a short time later.

On 14th November 1940, Coventry suffered its first major bombing raid. Reg. was staying with his childhood sweetheart, Vera Hilton, on the night of the Coventry Blitz and they both escaped injury, however, it was to be a different story when Coventry was blitzed again during the following the year. On 1st. March 1941, Reg. And Vera married at Queens Rd. Baptist Church Coventry, and shortly after on Good Friday, during the Good Friday Blitz of Coventry, Reg. Was hit by a bomb and again suffered a haemorrhage from his lungs.

He was moved to Kenilworth, to the Bannard household at Little Virginia, and after several test was diagnosed as T.B. positive. This was a terrible disease at this time and claimed over seventy percent of its victims. It was a slow killer for which there was no cure and, because of its infective nature, those who caught it became almost social outcasts. The couple were living with Vera's parents prior to this, but were not allowed to return for fear of infection, instead Vera stayed at the Bannards and Reg. was moved to Hartford Hill Sanatorium, Warwick, for treatment.

Treatment for T.B. at this time was very primitive and consisted of almost total bed rest and fresh air. Patients were housed in massive open-air wards or pavilions as they were known. It was not uncommon , during the winter months, to find beds covered in snow as patients struggled to survive. Reg was fortunate that the patch of T.B. in his lung was so positioned so as to allow his lung to be collapsed and thus to heal by resting it. He stayed at the sanatorium for six months and then attended an outpatient clinic weekly for seven long years, during which almost all of their friends deserted them fearing that they too would catch the disease. Reg was the only patient out of his ward to survive the ravages of the illness. The couple never forgot the kindness shown to them by Esther and Ted Bannard during Reg's illness and would often go to visit the couple in Kenilworth.

The couple moved to rented accommodation at 50, Banks Rd. Coventry, paying 17s.6d. for rent and 2s.6d. for rates. Reg. worked for the Coventry City Council in the City Treasurers Department for several years until offered a job by his landlord, Mr Falconbridge, who ran a building company. Despite repeated warnings from Reg., the firm eventually went bankrupt and Mr. Falconbridge shot himself whilst staying in a Paris hotel, unable to face his debts.

Shortly after the war, Reg. moved to Coventry Engineering and at same time studied for his Chartered Secretary Licentiate and later, in 1963, became a Fellow of The Institute of Chartered Secretaries. Reg moved from Coventry Engineering after about five years and went to work for Unbrako Ltd. in Coventry, where he remained for eighteen years. He then moved to W.E.Jones toolmakers, Eagle St., Coventry as Company Secretary.

Reg's wife, Vera May Hilton, was the daughter of William Henry Hilton a printer / artist, and Rosina Florence Swann. Vera was born at 44, Castle St., Coventry on 8th. May 1919. Her mother, Rosina, was born at 24, Gas St. (Ref:89), Coventry, on 2nd. February 1888 and was the eldest daughter of Henry Morgan Swann and Florence Annie Webb. He was apprenticed by Charles Lants, a major mineral water manufacturer. The father of Florence Annie was a travelling salesman, and a letter sent by him to Florence in 1871 is still in existence.

Vera had a sister, Winifred Gladys b. 8th January 1911, and two brothers, Leonard b. 19th December 1907 and Eric b. 12th. July 1914. Childhood memories for Vera are painful. In 1925 the family split up and Leonard and his father moved out. The whereabouts of Leonard are unknown, as he did not keep in touch with the family. Rosina took children to rooms in Castle St. Coventry and obtained an order for maintenance on William, however, as is the way in so many of these instances, he did not pay and after moving to rooms in Primrose Hill St, Rosina was forced to leave the children in a desperate attempt to make William look after then. The children went to their father, but he was unwilling to look after them and attempted to get them into the workhouse.

This failed and eventually Vera and her sister went to live with an aunty, Daisy Green, at 11 Hitchens Row, Cross St. Coventry. Eric was sent to live with another aunt in Adderley St. Whilst there, Vera fell ill with mumps and severe malnutrition and was sent to live with a friend, Mrs. Stone at 11 Lord St. and was later joined there by her sister, where they stayed for three to four months.During this period Rosina met Edward Charles Manning who was to become the families unofficial step-father. He was a good man and provided for the family, which moved to Westwood Gardens, Canley, Coventry. They later moved to 14, Stanley Rd., Earlsdon, Coventry.

Vera attended Earlsdon St. girls school from the age of 11, although she had been offered a scholarship at Barrs Hill Grammar school which she was unable to take up as the family were too poor. At the age of fourteen she left and found work at the Kensington Laundry in the packaging department where she worked for seven years. Her wages were 2.5d per hour when she started, and increased by 1d. per hour per year. She worked twelve hour shifts from 8a.m. to 8p.m. When war came she was moved to the Coventry and District Co-op in Spon St., where she worked until 1945.

When the couple were married, on 1st. March 1941, the wedding reception catering was carried out by H. & F. Liggins and the cost for 31 guests was £5:16s:3d, with an additional 4s.0d being paid for flowers. The wedding ring, a 22ct. gold ring, cost £2:5s:0d., and the cake cost £1: 12s: 0d. These receipts are still in my possession.

Reg and Vera moved from their rented house in Banks Rd. to 83, Arnold Ave and then to a general store at 200, Whoberley Ave. Coventry. Vera ran the store for several years whilst Reg worked at Uabrako and eventually they moved to 117, Rochester Rd. Coventry. During his later life, Reg developed heart and blood pressure problems and suffered several heart attacks and at least one minor stroke. During 1978/9 he developed circulatory problems in his legs and eventually had to undergo surgery in an attempt to bypass the blockages. He died whilst still in hospital without regaining consciousness after the operations, on 30th. October 1980.

My mother, Vera, moved out of Rochester Rd. shortly after his death to 10, Lealholme Ct. Earlsdon, Coventry and later lived at 312 Aylesdene Ct. Earlsdon. After a period in Belvedere Nursing Home, Earlsdon, she died 24th.September 2014 with the funeral and cremation taking place on 10th October 2014. Her ashes are interred in the same plot as Reg and his mother and father at Canley cemetery, Coventry.

 Author's Note: I have many memories of Dad, but rarely am I reminded more of him than when I am examining parish registers. When I started the search for the Drury line I invited my father along to the Record Office and we searched through many a register together. I remember him being thorough to the point of aggravation. He would insist on reading all the entries, whether relevant or not, in full. He would notice my impatience and would remark " If its been here for a hundred years, another day won't matter. ". True, of course, but still extremely annoying.

I remember when we first found the writings of the vicar, William Best , and he wanted to stop and read them but I insisted we press on and try to find some more christening entries in the register. It was several years later, and after his death in 1980, that I eventually went back through the notes made by him at the time and looked again at the vicar's writings. What a pity he never got to read the vicar's history lessen ........ I too search a little slower nowadays !!

Reg married Vera May Hilton on 1st. March 1941,at Queens Rd. Baptist Church Coventry

Raymond b.26/01/1946 m.29/06/1974 d.
Derek b.11/08/1953 m.21/08/1967 d.

Florence Webb Letter