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Sproules and Fletchers in Egypt - 1935-1944






El Alamein



Jimmmy Sproule served as a senior RAMC / General Staff Officer in Cairo, Egypt from November 1935 to January 1942, with a home leave in August / September 1937 and a more curtailed leave in summer 1939 (WWII was declared on 3rd September 1939).  He was joined for all this time by his wife Clare, and for much of it by daughter Peggy.  Son Brian came out for some school holidays.   Clare and Peggy took all the opportunities available to travel widely and take photographs, and we will be taking the opportunity to run some of them in Ciaofamiglia.












Just look at the meticulous detail of Clare's hand colouring








There are more light filled studies from Jerusalem in Clare's albums if we have time ....









Off to work in Cairo c1937




British military technology on display at the Coronation Day Parade in Cairo, 12 May 1937, watched by Clare, Jimmy and Peggy Sproule.









Clare took some stunning river photos in Egypt - full of reflected drama



c1938 - Clare, Peggy & Brian visit a Pyramid



1938 - Clare surveys the world from the top of the Great Pyramid





Jimmy poses in the desert - c1940


1941 - Colonel J C Sproule awarded the CBE - link to the Citation




Jimmy & Clare's Cairo farewell November 1941 - Clare took the photos, Peggy wrote the captions !


There are several other photo albums of explorations, picnics etc, and just as many of army social life and the Gaziera Club, but our time ran out!



1941 December - Jimmy & Clare leave Cairo for UK via South Africa, though Clare may have ended up diverting via the USA after a swim in South Africa.







There are lots of evocative photos of 1930s holiday visits to Cornwall & Devon, and N Ireland, not to mention some award winning photos like this one of Kyrenia, from a Cyprus stop off ....



and a hand coloured photo of a pre-war harvest in Ireland



Here is the family Sproule on UK leave in the late '30s, or on second thoughts more likely after they all came home in the early 1940s



and Clare gets in some war preparation 





Michael Fletcher came to Egypt in early 1939 as a Sandhurst trained subaltern in the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, and later moved to the role of a cipher officer with the Royal Signals, for which he was awarded the MBE.  Michael and Peggy were married on 21 May 1941 in All Saints Cathedral, Cairo.



To add to the family gathering, Michael's dad - Dr (wartime Colonel) Jimmy Fletcher spent 1940-42 as OIC Medical Division, No 12 General Hospital, Cairo.  Jimmy's brother Jack was also there as a Lt-Commander in the Royal Navy.  Michael was an only child, and Jimmy's wife Ethel Fletcher had to endure being grounded in England, missing the wedding and not meeting her daughter-in-law (with grandson Adrian) until 1944.




Early 1940s - Fletchers in Cairo





1942 - el Alamein




The Second Battle of el-Alamein (23 October to 4 November 1942) was the first major allied victory of WWII.  Adrian's Dad Captain Michael Fletcher was the 8th Army's Chief Cipher Officer.  Earlier in June 1942 Capt Fletcher had flown in to the besieged City of Tobruk to sort a major cipher snafu.  This done, he bumped into a navy acquaintance and was offered a submarine lift back to Alexandria.  As it turned out this was the last warship to get out before the City was overrun by German forces and its 35,000 strong garrison became prisoners of war on 21 June 1942.  So without this kind act by the Senior Service, Adrian would not have joined the world in December 1943 !   In the months before the battle of el Alamein General Montgomery was particularly concerned about bolstering the severely bruised morale of his army by bringing "welfare amenities" such as ENSA concerts and cinema right up to front line areas.




Around the middle of Colonel F's medals, the Africa Star carries the bar of the 8th Army Clasp.

The 8th Army was created in October 1941, but the clasp was restricted to service in the "good times" - after 23 October 1942.






Back in England - mid 1940s



Clare and Jimmy Sproule returned to England via Cape Town in November 1941.  Adrian was born in the Anglo American Hospital, Cairo, in December 1943, and by the Spring of '44 everyone except Jimmy Fletcher was back at Hurworth Grange (nr Darlington, Co Durham) where the southerners had been evacuated to.



Clare & Jimmy Sproule, Brian Sproule (Peggy's brother), Michael Peggy & Adrian Fletcher, Ethel Fletcher (Michael's mum)

at Hurworth Grange, nr Darlington.





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