Symons, John Patrick

I was searching for John Patrick Symons and thought that I had found him in India, so I called on my old friends at WW2Talk but it was the wrong John Patrick Symons, and they were able to put me on the track of the right John Patrick Symons.

With their help, I found, thanks to Clive and Mr. Jinks on the Forum that John Patrick Symons was born on the 17th March 1921, in Sri Lanka.   He was the son of William Shawe & Olive Margaret Symons (nee Mansell) who had married in 1920, their 3rd Banns were published on the 8th February 1920 – “William Shawe Symons of Rangala* and Olive Margaret Mansell of this Parish at St Paul, Princes Park, Lancashire, England.”   I cannot find their marriage certificate.

*Rangala – – Rangala (Sinhala: රංගල) is a small village located in Kandy District, Central Province, Sri Lanka. It is situated approximately 35 km (22 mi) northwest of Kandy in the Knuckles Conservation forest, near Kotta Ganga.  – HISTORY OF CEYLON TEA

Strange as it may seem, the story of Ceylon Tea begins with coffee. The tale begins in the early 1820s, barely five years after the surrender of Kandy, the last surviving indigenously-ruled state in Ceylon, to the British crown. By then, the rest of the island had already been a British colony for more than a generation. Its possession was considered vital to imperial interests in India and the Far East, but the cost of maintaining the military presence and infrastructure necessary to secure it was prohibitive. Attempts to raise revenue by taxation could not by themselves fill the gap; how to make the colony pay for itself and its garrison was a problem that had troubled successive governors since the first, Frederic North, took office in 1798.

This tenacity is spoken of in plantation legends and can be seen in inscriptions on gravestones of Scots and English pioneer planters – many of whom died prematurely from disease – in Ceylon’s hill country. These bear silent testimony to the harsh conditions in which the tea industry was built and most importantly, to the fearlessness and dedication of the founders of this great industry.

The ‘History of Ceylon Tea’ project is a tribute to those courageous men of whom Conan Doyle spoke, that the memory of their sacrifice and dedication in creating a great and life-giving industry shall not be dimmed with time. The Tea Industry of Ceylon, now called Sri Lanka, is the lifeblood of the country today, providing direct employment to over 500,000 people, and producing for the world a beverage that is healthy, refreshing and delicious. It is an imperative for the future of this industry that we shall not forget the past, and those that made history in creating our tea industry. – Photos of the Rangalla Estate in Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

So I think that William Shawe Symons was already working in Sri Lanka when he married Olive Margaret in 1920.

William Shawe Symons was born in Holsworthy, Devon and I found on the  Family Tree of Simon JAMES:-

When Dr. John George Renny Symons was born on 29 July 1851 in West Bengal, India, his father, Dr., was 33 and his mother, Mary, was 28. He married Jane Shawe on 4 August 1886 in Newburgh, Lancashire. They had eight children in 10 years. He died on 21 October 1900 in Shepperton, Middlesex, at the age of 49. (One of whom was William SHAWE SYMONS)

So he was to lose his father who was a Surgeon and General Practitioner at the age of 10 years and he is seen on the 1911 census at the age of 20 years as a Boarder living at Mill Brow Top, Marple Bridge, Ludworth, Derbyshire in 2 rooms, he was an Apprentice Mechanical Engineering.

John Patrick’s mother Olive Margaret, was born in Wellington, Shropshire  on the 19th December 1897 and Baptised on the 24th Jan 1898 at the Parish Church at Wrockwardine, Shropshire.   Olive Margaret is seen on the 1911 census living with her parents and siblngs at Heron Dene, Ballasella, Isle of Man, with 9 rooms.    Her father William Robert Mansell, 56, was a Poultry Farmer and born in Millington, Shropshire.  His wife, Marianne, 50 tells us that they had been married 14 years and that 3 children had been born, all still living, she and the three children had been born in Wellington, Shropshire.   The children were Olive Margaret, 10, William Herbert, 11, both at School and Marian Cecily, age 9 years.

So began their many passages to and from their plantation and the UK.

After William Shawe Symons and Olive Margaret Mansell were married, it seems that William must have had an opportunity for work abroad, as on the 9th February,  1924, arriving at London on the “Largs Bay” from Ceylon were William S. & Olive M. Symons and their children J.P. Symons age 2 and Beryl Symons age 1.   William is described as a “Planter.”

On the 17th September 1924 travelling 1st Class on the “City of Exeter” to Ceylon was Mrs. W.S. Symons, age 26, Master J.P. Symons, age 3 and Miss B.M. Symons age 2.   They gave their address on both ships as 84, Devonshire Road, Liverpool.

I am assuming that John Patrick may have returned to the UK for his schooling, but I cannot find a passage for him from Ceylon circa 1932 and I do not know where he obtained his education, any help would be greatly appreciated.   The next entries give us the link to Hope.

Then on the 28th April 1934, travelling from Ceylon on the “Barrabool” to London was Olive Symons, age 36, Home Duties; Beryl Symons, age 11, School; Hugh Symons, age 7, School.   Their address was given as “Woodlands,” Hope, Nr. Wrexham.

On the 1st of April 1938, arriving at Tilbury Dock, London on the ship “Stratheden” from Ceylon was Olive, now 40 years old and Hugh, age 11, their address again was “Woodland”, Hope, Nr. Wrexham, Wales.

Then departing from London on the ship “Orama” on the 22nd October 1938, William Shawe & Olive Margaret Symons set sail for Ceylon (Sri Lanka), landing at Columbo.   Again their home was “Woodlands,” Hope, Nr. Wrexham.   William Shawe Symons was then age 47 years.

I looked on Google Earth and there is a house called “Woodlands.” in Gresford Rd, Hope, Wrexham LL12 9PW, but they look reasonably new, not about 80 years old.   6 houses and a bungalow on one side and other buildings, bungalows, down a lane opposite side of the road.

On the ship “Durban Castle” was William Shawe Symons, 54, Planter & Olive Margaret Symons, 47, travelling to Southampton from Ceylon, arriving there on the 10th July 1945.   Their address this time was c/o Mrs. Ashdown, Belmont Bank House, Shrewsbury.

On the 24th November 1950, outward bound to Ceylon from Liverpool on the ship “Worcestershire” was William Shawe Symons, age 59 and a Planter & Olive Margaret Symons, age 52.   Their address was give as 53e, Batemouth, Cambridge.

We find John Patrick’s sister Beryl Marianne Symons, now 28 years old and a Secretary, with her address given as 4, Liberia Road, N.5. travelling on the ship “Corfu,” bound for Hong Kong, as a tourist, departing Southampton to Ceylon on the 9th March 1951.

Then on the 15th July 1951, she arrives back in London on the ship “Benavon”with her mother Olive Margaret Symons, now 53 years old, permanent residence Ceylon who describes herself as a Housewife .   Beryl Marianne is a Shorthand Typist and her permanent residence is England.   Both give their address as “Monks”, Tollesbury, Essex.

I believe that Beryl M. Symons married in the December quarter of 1962 to Peter Kendrick in the Registration District of Hailsham. (Hailsham, Sussex  Vol. 5h Page 416).

I believe that William Shawe Symons died in the December quarter of 1973, age 82 years.  (Registration District: Eastbourne, Sussex Vol. 5h Page 890).    His probate:-

SYMONS, William Shawe of the Old Forge, Cowbeech, Hailsham, Sx. Died 14th November 1973  Probate London 28th January 1974.  

I also believe that Beryl Marianne Kendrick, John Patrick’s sister died on Lantau Island Hong Kong, her probate:-

KENDRICK, Beryl Marianne of Flat F, 1st Floor, 8, Seahorse La, Beach Village, Discovery Bay, Lantau Island, Hong Kong died 24th November 1986.  Probate London 27th Mau 1987.  

Thanks again to the WW2 website above, they told me about the National Archives that had information on Johyn Patrick and his sad death:-

Private Papers of Lieutenant J P Symons

Content description

Seven photographs of Lieutenant John Patrick Symons, 78th General Purpose Transport Company, Royal Indian Army Service Corps (RIASC), who died of heat stroke in Delhi aged 21 (11 June 1942), including photographs of him as a child, in uniform, with his sister, Beryl, and of his original grave marker (with his incorrect age). Together with: a ts letter (7pp, 27 August 1942) from his Commanding Officer, Major Leslie A Waters, to Symons’ parents, expressing his dismay at the death of their son, and his strong feeling of responsibility for it, with details of the training programmes he had introduced to toughen up the men under his command, the conscientious way Symons had taken on his duties and responsibilities, the temperature being about 120 degrees in Delhi, and giving details of the circumstances of

Symons’ death from heat stroke, with Symons fainting in his arms and not regaining consciousness in hospital, as well as details of losing family of his own in the bombing of London; and brief biographical details of Symons written by his brother (2014). Also included is a photograph of his mother, Olive Symons (Née Mansell), three ts letters written to her (3pp plus two envelopes) from the Postal Censorship relating to her employment with the Postal Censorship in the Dock Offices, Liverpool (October 1916 – August 1918), including details of salary and duties, together with a War Department Certificate of Service in Civil Appointment (1p plus envelope, November 1918).



Content description

Interesting collection of 65, mainly airgraph, letters (August 1942-1945) written to her son at boarding school in England, whilst she was living in Bingiriya, Ceylon [Sri Lanka], where her husband ran a tea plantation. Chatty and informal, the letters are mainly concerned with domestic issues and mention high prices paid on the black market for food and the fact that vegetables are scarce and expensive, the difficulty of obtaining petrol coupons and purchasing a bicycle (possibly in response to the major Japanese air raid on Ceylon on 9 April 1942 and the predicted threat of invasion) and visiting a display of anti-aircraft guns in Colombo (1942); recurring bouts of malaria, some details of leisure activities such as cinema visits, salary cuts and the problems of transferring money to England, the difficulty of retaining servants when the wages offered by the army are so high, and requesting her son not to volunteer for the armed services (her elder son was killed whilst serving in the RAF), but to enlist for the Home Guard (1943); the problems of thieves on the plantation, sending tea and margarine to England as well as clothes, and the necessity of obtaining a permit to do so, some discussion of the benefits of going to university, the fact that her friend is suffering from dengue fever and arrangements for their eventual return to England (1945). The collection is accompanied by a War Certificate, issued to her son, Hugh Williams Symons on his passing the examination for “War Certificate A” on 30 October 1942, at Denstone College, Staffordshire, a copy of a pamphlet entitled “Rifle Shooting for Cadets”, depicting a photograph of Hugh on the cover, and 8 contemporaneous family photographs.

So reading from these entries on the Imperial War Museum, John Patrick was training very hard to meet his commanding Officer’s demands, as he said he was toughening up his troops.

John Patrick was obviously loved and missed by his family, as they added his name to the Hope WW2 War Memrial.

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