Lionel and Joan

Lionel had the benefit of an education at the private Clemes College in Hobart and later qualified as an electrician. After schooling Lionel and his brother Doug continued to live with their mother at 13 Baker St. Newtown. In the 1930s he met an English girl, Joan Hatton, who was then a fifteen year-old student at Hobart High School. She and her mother Ann Orange (nee Hall) had come to Hobart after World War I to join relatives. Her father, Edward George Hatton, was an Armourer on the cruiser Queen Mary and killed on 31 May 1916 when the ship was sunk in the first hours of the Battle of Jutland. Virtually all of the crew of 1400 were lost. He never knew that Ann (confusingly known as Nancy) was pregnant. Joan was born 20 Nov 1916 in Derby and christened in Smalley Parish Church seven weeks later .

Ann Hall had been born in Alfreton in October 1889 to George Hall, a coal miner, and Caroline Else. Ann’s father’s was also born there and her mother’s family had lived in the nearby village of Smalley for generations. She had seven sisters and four brothers. Joan’s great grandfather was a woodman, John Thorpe Else. His brother, William, was the butcher in the village who was married there around 1878. The 1881 census records George and Caroline living in Alftreton with Georgiana, then 6, Mary Elizabeth,4, Charles H.,2, and the baby John George. Ann’s father died in Jan 1914, eighteen months before her marriage to George Hatton.

The marriage took place in Ann’s village of Foremarke cum Inglebury in Derbyshire. George had been on the
Queen Mary before the War began and they had participated in the battle of the Heliogoland Bight at the end of August 1914. Ann probably worked in Repton, Burton-on-Trent at this time for that is the address on a string of postcards she received from ‘Ted’.

Joan as child

Around 1920 Ann decided to join her sister Georgina in Tasmania. On arrival they stayed temporarily with Ana and her husband Frank Pearson in Risdon Road near the Zinc Works. By 1923 they were living at Richmond where she received the balance of payments owed to her as a Navy widow, some £34.

When it was time for Joan to go to High School they moved to the city in 1929. They initially lived at 14 Chesterman St. in Moonah and in 1931 at 27 Cross St. Newtown. Joan records in her diary for 1932 that they lived at 219 Main Road Newtown, opposite what is now Ogilvie High School. This address was a large house known as Carolside owned by Alfred Cotton and in 1929 was a private hospital.

Joan had a wide circle of friends including Nancy Hall and Mazie Harding and the three Harrison boys. She and Lionel and Doug and Edna seemed to be steady group. The three girls continued to correspond after Joan went to England . Joan obtained her Intermediate Certificate (with the benefit of a supplementary exam) at the end of 1931 and left Hobart High School. She was just fifteen. It appears that her mother had decided some time earlier that they would now return to England. The Depression had heavily impacted on Tasmania and the prospects at home seemed brighter. Joan spent the summer playing tennis at Brook’s court in Sandy Bay, swimming, walking, reading and playing the piano.
Lionel as youth

Lionel was heartbroken when Joan and her mother prepared to return to England on the
RMS Orford . As March ended she said farewell to Lionel and her friends and on 2 April they boarded the Orford for the two-day sail to Melbourne. The weather was fine and she settled into life on ship. Deck quoits and dancing. By Fremantle she had made several friends and improved her skills to win the Ladies deck Tennis. Approaching Aden she wrote her first letter to Lionel. Stops at Suez, Naples, Toulon and Gibraltar provided plenty of interest for an adventurous teenager. Five weeks after leaving Hobart they disembarked at Southampton and took train to Derby.

It seems that her grandmother and Aunt Nance and Donnie lived at Stanley between Ilkeston and Derby and her Aunt Maggie lived at Kirk Hallam. Aunt Carrie also lived in Derby. Aunt May (Mary) also lived at Ilkeston.

The Hatton’s moved in with one of Ann’s sister Mrs Nancy Carrier and Joan formed a close friendship with her cousin Ron . Finding a job was the first priority and her first try was at the
Derby Advertiser. It was not until July that she got a chance to join the office staff of the pharmaceutical company Boots in Nottingham. Working also meant going back to school; On Monday and Wednesday night she went to night school to study the subjects she failed in Hobart – English, Arithmetic and French On Tuesday night she studied shorthand, on Friday, Dramatics and Typing and on Saturday afternoon she had a guitar lesson. Despite this timetable she found time a very busy social life

They lived at 22 Lyndhurst Rd., in the Nottingham suburb of Sneinton, possibly with Joan’s grandmother

Boots provided plenty of recreational opportunities for its employees and Joan quickly became an active member of its Dramatic Society and a contributor of short stories to the Company magazine. Later she helped form a Cine Club. Her free time seemed to be spent in drama, writing and horse riding by the River Trent. Tennis in the summer and skating in winter. She was a regular picture goer and occasionally went to the theatre in London The piano was a constant activity highlighted by giving a concert at the Albert Hall (Nottingham I suppose) in July 1939. Some holidays were spent with relatives at Riber House Farm in Matlock, Derbyshire. In the summer of 1935 she went to Bruges in Belgium with friends from Boots. The next summer break was spent closer to home at Whitby.

A constant stream of young men vied for her attention. George, Albert, Mac and Ken were the object of serious relationships according to her diary entries. Nevertheless Lionel seemed to retain his paramount position despite, or perhaps because of his absence. A letter from him warranted a phone call from ‘Mam’ to Boots and an excited entry in the diary. Occasionally the reply justified the expense of airmail delivery.

When Joan left for England Lionel was working as a photographer with the Mercury newspaper in Hobart. He was a very keen bushwalker and in 1933 he and two friends, Alan Quarmby and Jack Mason formed the Beach Canoe Club. Lionel was the Secretary and unofficial photographer the Clubhouse was a boatshed at Long Beach. His Club scrapbook provides a wonderful window into his world. For three or four years Lionel was surrounded by a group of young men and women bent on fun and water sports. Other members we know of included Leo Luckman, Dot Lipscombe, Janet Weidenofer, Karen? May and Cheri Dulon. As well as these members Lionel was diligent in photographing a number of very attractive female visitors to the Club. The canoeing was serious with trips down the Channel to Maria Island and as far afield as Port Davey. To reach the latter destination took the paddlers two weeks. In 1934 they held a Club holiday on Bruny Island. Lionel owned both canoes and a sailing dinghy called Miss Joan.

The Club had a fraternal relationship with the Top-of-the-World Swimming Club and seemed to have joint social outings.

Mercury house newspaper for March 1938 carries a photo of Lionel with the following caption.

'The subject of the above picture was once popularly known as "Ting-a-ling-Harrison" of the Studio Staff. From a newsy letter from Sydney we gather that he's in the money. His work is photographic, and from the samples submitted seems to be nice-work-(if you can get it)! We have one great fault to find with our old pal Lionel – his memory – it has taken him 2 and a half years to remember our address.'

From this somewhat cryptic comment we can gather that Lionel moved to Sydney around September 1935 and continued to work successfully as a photographer. Keith also moved to Sydney for a while during this period.

It seems likely that Lionel stayed in Sydney for about four years for in October 1939 Joan got a reply to her letter to him that implied that he had a new job. ‘In the service? Gawd knows what he is up to bless him. His people don’t know evidently.’ She wrote in her diary. As War began gloom infected everyone, gas masks were issued and Ron joined the Army and Keith the Air Force in Tasmania To relieve the gloom she spent £23 on a new fur coat.

Just before war was declared Keith and Jean were in Hobart on a short visit to her parents. Keith returned to Queenstown at the end of August and Jean followed shortly after. Ten days after World War II began their first child, Anthony (Tony) James, was born on September 13 at nearby Queenstown and shortly after they returned to Hobart to stay with his parents. Keith returned to work but all the family gathered at Albuera St. for Christmas and for Tony's christening at Claremont on 3 January. A week later the family moved back to Gormanston and at the end of February 1940 Lionel, joined him at the mine. Lionel's stay was short lived for after a month's work he broke both legs in an accident. For a month Jean had the baby, a husband and a cripple to care for.

In June 1940 the War in became serious for Nottingham with the first air raid warning them bombing. Boots moved its office and Joan took a First Aid course and driving lessons. In August the city was bombed on most days and she became a volunteer in the home nursing service. In September she had a letter from Doug Harrison

In August 1941 Keith arrived in England to serve with the RAF and was stationed not far away at Lichfield. Keith joined Joan and Ann for Christmas and gathered the impression that Joan and his brother were contemplating marriage. A few months after Keith left for Europe Lionel joined the merchant navy in July 1941. He reduced his age by eight years and signed on to the Norwegian owned vessel
Tai Yin. The Gjertsen line vessel left Melbourne on 22 July bound for Europe via the Suez Canal.

On 4 January 1942 Keith was lucky to survive when his Wellington bomber crashed and burnt near Gibraltar. Joan was unaware of the tragedy when she posted a parcel of cigarettes to him four days later. She was now thinking of taking up nursing as a profession and spoke with Dr Davies about it. Perhaps due the bombing she and Ann were looking for a new house and later in the month confirmed a lease on Highway in Burton Road, Gedling, in the inner city. They moved in February and took care to ensure that Lionel’s letters would be forwarded. A letter and photo arrived soon after and she had ‘No sleep thinking about my darling’. The ‘sailor photo’ was enlarged and framed. While he sailed the Indian Ocean she signed on at Nottingham General Hospital and moved into the hospital’s Nurses Home

Joan as nurse

The romance continued by letter and cable. It was not until the end of November that the
Tai Yin returned to Melbourne but a letter and parcel was waiting for him. Joan found that nursing was a bit of shock after the gentle pace of the Boots office. Her diary and social life suffered long interruptions.

Until September 1943 the
Tai Yin sailed to Europe and back with periodic calls at Colombo and Calcutta. Lionel spent his first three months as an engine boy and a further month as a greaser before becoming an able seaman. He then transferred to the Vera and spent some months on the Australian coast before she sailed across the Pacific and on to New York. As Lionel approached New York from the south Keith was approaching from England. It is seemingly incredible coincidence that should both be in New York at the same time in the middle of a war. Did they meet? Lionel’s stay in the great metropolis lasted just a few days early in April 1944 before the Vera joined a convoy for Glasgow. Keith took a much safer route by train to San Francisco and then to Australia.

Having reached his goal Lionel was paid off on 2 May and he set off for Nottingham. His arrival in Burton Road Gedling was greeted with much celebration. The marriage took place less than three weeks later. With Lionel in a leather aircrew jacket and Joan in a very exotic wedding dress borrowed from a friend they set off for All Hallows in Gedling. They were married at 4’oclock on Sunday afternoon, May 21st 1944.

After a short honeymoon in Wales Joan went back to the hospital and Lionel looked around for work. As the War in Europe came to and end Lionel was rather tired of the weather and his limited work. Joan obtained her SRN Certificate a year later but decided that nursing was not really for her and returned to Boots . The family decided they would be better off back in Australia but had to wait until November of 1946 before they could be fitted into the service repatriation program. On November 18 they left Highway and went to London for a few days at the Imperial Hotel. The Dominion Monarch sailed from Tilbury a week later.

The four-week passage to Melbourne in the troopship was far cry from their cruise in the
Orford fourteen years earlier. Their luggage was mislaid, the weather bad and the food worse. Lionel was accommodated with the returning troops and there was no alcohol to soothe away the problems. After Capetown the fresh water was contaminated by seawater and there was no hot water for washing. Nearly everyone on board was ill. With some relief they tied up at Station Pier at 5PM on 23 December. Things looked up when Doug arrived with two cars to take them to his uncle’s house. Arthur O’Neil was a butcher in South Melbourne and he and Rose made them welcome. Whilst Joan and Ann were whisked off to a Red Cross Hostel Lionel stayed with O’Neil’s. They enjoyed a family Christmas before boarding the Taroona for Tasmania late in the afternoon.

Their spell of good fortune ended when they were greeted with a tram and bus strike in Hobart but it didn’t stop ‘Ana’ and the Harrisons turning out at the station to greet them. I well remember standing on the platform with my sister Jenny and mother and watching as a tall thin man with dark curly hair and prominent teeth came down the steps of the train. With him was a lady of my grandmother’s age, who looked a little like her, and an attractive dark haired woman. Ann went with her sister to 1 Wilson Street Newtown while Joan and Lionel settled in with the Williams at the bottom of Anfield Street in Glenorchy.

Although Joan immediately obtained registration as a nurse both she and Lionel soon found work at a new textile factory in Derwent Park. She became the secretary to Orlando Alcorso who with brother Claudio founded Silk and Textile Printers. Lionel worked in maintenance. They bought a block of land in Montrose with commanding views over the Derwent and to Mt. Direction.

On the northern boundary of the block they built a wooden chalet and Ann rejoined them(the chalet can just be seen in the upper right og the building photo). With building materials in very short supply Lionel set about building a house. He joined a new Building Society and a loan allowed him to buy a manual machine to form concrete blocks. Block by block he constructed a house to proud of and it became a social Centre for the Hobart theatrical set. Joan installed a grand piano 26 Tilyard Street was the venue for many post theatre parties. Joan had become a leading figure in the Hobart Repertory Society - writing , directing and acting in plays ranging from Shakespeare to her own creations. In Hobart her writing which had begun at Hobart High in 1930 reached its pinnacle. She received high praise from leading critics and considered taking up the theatre as a profession.

Unfortunately the fairy tale romance began to fail. A few months after their arrival in Hobart she had confided in a letter to a nursing friend, Irene Miles (nee Fell), that she was unhappy about not yet having a child. Irene’s advice was to see a doctor and ‘make Lionel go’. In another letter to Sybil in January 1948 she admitted to being homesick. By the mid 1950s it was obvious that the relationship was ending and soon Joan was living in Sydney.

Ann Orange Hatton died in December 1960. She had lived in the chalet for much of past thirteen years. When Joan moved to the mainland she moved into the house with Lionel. After her death Lionel began to deteriorate, a spinal condition left him in pain and unable to work. By 1966 he needed treatment in hospital but little could be done to relieve his condition. Living alone in pain it was not entirely unexpected that he should turn to Bacchus for relief. Joan worked as a receptionist for Dr. E.S.Cole at 33 Queens Rd Melbourne. On her periodic visits from Melbourne Joan found him in a sorry state. She ensured that he got the best available treatment but to little avail. Eventually his stepfather insisted that he move out of his house and stay at Anfield Street. He died in March 1970.

As Joan grew older her hearing failed and she suffered acutely from arthritis in her hands. Les Cooper died in 1997 and Joan died in March 1999 aged eighty two.