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Mrs Caroline E Long

29 November 1923 - 06 November 2013

Caroline was born in Poplar, East London in 1923. She was the eldest of five siblings. She belonged to the church and the local Guides, she did well at school where her best subjects were Art and Geography; however whilst still at school she developed Rheumatic Fever and was sent to a sanatorium in Essex for a year. At 14 Caroline started work, her first jobs included being a lift girl in Wickhams department store in Whitechapel then in a factory making guardsmen’s greatcoats.

When the war broke out the East End was hit hard and Caroline used to sit on the rabbit hutches in her Grannies back yard watching the bombers coming over at night. Her sister had been evacuated with her school. Eventually she decided to join the Womens Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and although she was not yet old enough she put her age up 2 years on the application form. When she was called for the selection process she told her Granny, who she lived with to keep her dinner hot as she would probably be back, however her age was not questioned and she and the other girls were taken off there and then for training, in Harrogate.

Caroline trained as a radio operator and later as a telephonist and later acquired the rank of corporal. All her friends that she made during her 5 years in the WAAF turned out to be friends for life. In 1941 she met Ken Middlemist who was a Sergeant pilot flying Kittyhawks and they became engaged. Before long he was sent abroad to North Africa and they exchanged letters until his death in Italy a year later.

Some time later Caroline met James (Jimmy) a Yorkshire man who was a Flight Sergeant and an RAF Wireless Engineer. They were married in 1945 just before he was posted to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for nearly two years. On his return, once demobbed, they eventually settled in London in Clapham Junction in a flat over a stable yard where they had their first two children. They then moved to Roehampton where they had four more children. Caroline stayed in Roehampton till she moved to the Star and Garter, Richmond in January 2013.

Whilst living in Roehampton she was an active member of the Townswomen’s Guild and had many hobbies including sewing, knitting, crochet, gardening, flower arranging and attending pottery and watercolour classes. Caroline’s working life as a Telephonist included several years as a night telephonist at The Grosvenor, then Claridges Hotels. During retirement she worked as a volunteer at the Trinity Hospice Shop in Putney. Caroline has 10 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

Caroline first stayed in the Royal Star and Garter in 2012 when her house was flooded by a pipeburst and she stayed until her house was safe to live in again. She made many friends on ‘D’ floor and enjoyed the beautiful views that they had in Richmond over the park. Caroline moved in as a permanent resident in January 2013 after breaking her hip just before Christmas. All the staff and residents that she had met before remembered her and tried their best to make her feel comfortable and at home.

When they moved to Surbiton Caroline was on Lister floor and had been diagnosed with dementia, the staff up there were fantastic and carried out lots of activities with the residents. They also made us, her family, feel very comfortable to visit and Caroline was very pleased to show her Great Grandchildren, Emily, Samuel and Oscar off to her friends who were also very entertained by them!

On a whole, the Royal Star and Garter, Surbiton have been FANTASTIC the staff are lovely, friendly and welcoming. The environment is comfortable and encouraging to help the residents to remember things and the activities/outings they arrange are perfect. I’m very glad that Grandma had such a peaceful end to a very full life.

Thank you

~ Rosie Littleboy