Albert Liversuch, father to Ron, Ray and Bert, was born in 1887 in Bristol, England to his father Henry George Liversuch and his mother Emma Liversuch (Nee Nash) and made his living as a miner in the collieries of South Wales. He was said to have an excellent work ethic and was a top performer.
He traveled to the United States, briefly staying in Nevada, Utah, Indiana, Wyoming, and California. He then headed to Australia. He spent some time in Balgownie, a suburb of Wollongong, New South Wales and settled for a period in Sydney.
At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Albert Sr. was at Balgowlie, Perth, and New South Wales. He then tried to book passage back to Wales but there were no none available at the time. He managed to work his way back on a tramp steamer while his luggage was sent on ahead on another ship. The Lusitania. His luggage and most of his belongings at the time now lie at he bottom of the Irish Sea.
Upon arrival in Cardiff, Albert Sr. applied to the Royal Navy, but was refused and instead, placed in the starred category of Government Worker. He returned to the mines to help supply the navy with now badly needed coal. That was when he married Jessie.
He and Jessie moved into the the little township of Pontllanfraith, in Gwent, with Jessie's sister Marjorie and stayed for a short time. They later settled in the district of Llanrumny in Cardiff.
Albert eventually became very ill and it was diagnosed as a bout of double pneumonia. He was left helplessly weak with a shortness of breath. Upon further examination, he was pronounced with Pneumoconiosis. This is a malady common to those who spend extended amounts of time in mines and coal pits. 'Black Lung Disease'.
This diagnosis was later changed to 'Acute Bronchitis'. If it had remained Black Lung Disease, Albert would have been eligible for financial compensation to help him and Jessie from both the government and the mining companies that he had worked for. But it was now Acute Bronchitis. Lucky for the company and the government.
Apparently there were a great many cases of Acute Bronchitis among the miners throughout the valleys of South Wales, Lancashire and Yorkshire as well as other places where there were Coal Miners, Blast Furnacemen and Tin Miners.
As time and health restraints slowed him down, he spent many happy hours tending his garden and sharing his vegetables with his neighbours. This made him rather popular throughout the neighbourhood.
Albert struggled and hung onto life, wracked with lung problems, breathing disorders and difficulties or a number of years. He was eventually hospitalized in St. David's Hospital where he finally succumbed to his health problems at the age of eighty-two.
He passed away on Boxing Day in 1969 of Black Lung disease in Cardiff, South Wales.
His son Ron was notified on that day when the telephone rang and broke the tranquility of the childrens' Christmas. Their grandfather had died and their grandmother Jessie was a very sick and discouraged, grieving lady. Could Ron come to Wales? He was on the next available plane.
Jessie Liversuch (nee Lawes) was one of eight siblings. When she was two years old the family left England for a British Army camp on Rawal Pindi at the foot of the Himalayas and near the famed Khyber Pass, later continuing into India and Afghanistan. Her baby sister Edith died and was buried there.
Jessie was the great-great grand daughter of Sir George Elliot. A man who in the 1800's owned collieries in South Wales and started the Powell Duffryn Company. He was to make the lifesaving lamp that every coal miner was was to carry into the mines with them. Among many of his enterprises, he was also a financial backer and shareholder in the Transatlantic Submarine Telegraph Cable that was laid to America from off the coils of the ship called the 'The Great Eastern'. He also advised British Prime Minister Benjamin Disreali to buy shares in the Suez Canal.
Jessie's father, Alfred Ernest Elliot Lawes, was a Graduate of Durham College and made his career as a civil engineer with an early history as an apprentice on a Clipper Ship, and had several times sailed around the horn (Cape Horn, South America. This was before there was a Panama Canal). Her mother Julia was from the seaside village of Eggbuckland in Plymouth on the south coast of England who would later become a very prim and proper headmistress of a girls school.
Jessie met Albert and even though she felt that he had a peculiar last name, she married him. They had their first son Ron shortly afterward, followed by Ray and Albert Jr. They also had twin daughters, Hazel and Grace, who were born prematurely and did not survive. The first died after only two days and the other lasted thirteen days.
Jessie was emotionally crushed by this and devoted herself to doting over her three sons.
She stood careful watch over heer sons as they passed from young boys into manhood and made sure that they treated the young ladies that came into their lives with a great deal of respect. And all the girlfriends of the three sons were treated accordingly.
She and Albert spent many years of frustration trying to locate their Son Ray after he was listed 'Missing in Action' and a short time trying to locate her youngest son Bert as well. There were many memorial trips to Holland and France to be near her deceased sons. In the 1960's when Albert took ill with lung problems, she spent a great deal of time looking after him.
On a snowy and icy day in 1969, while going to visit Albert in St. David's hospital, Jessie slipped took a hard fall. She was helped to a doctor who diagnosed her injuries as a fractured tailbone and minor concussion. She was put in a body cast. Her recovery was slow and, at her advanced age, she never really completely healed.
Her son Ron was notified on on Saturday, 27 December that his father had passed away and caught the first available flight to Wales. Although she was now out of the cast, Ron found her in a state of confusion and pain from her injured back. She was also in a deep depression. Ron knew she needed help badly. She was no longer able to care for herself so he began arrangements to bring her back to Canada where he and Daisy could look after her. The doctors told him, though, that her heart would never survive the flight. He worked to have her placed in a pensioners rest home until she could gather her strength.
Jessie was transported from her home to Glan Ely Hospital. She would no longer be able to live on her own, so Ron had to take care of his father's funeral and the tasks of clearing out her and Albert's home, and arranging for her longtime care until she could come to Canada.
Ron noticed that while in the hospital, Jessie looked so much better and even a bit happier. He was doing some walking at the urging of the nurses and seemed better for it.
Ron had to return to Canada, but had set up with the Department of Social Welfare to have regular reports sent to him about Jessie's condition. He returned home and began setting up a room in his house for her to stay in upon her arrival.
Finally one Friday in July of 1970, she was given the green light to fly to Calgary. This was never to happen, though. Jessie was on one of her walks in the halls of the hospital when a doctor rushed past her and she mistook him for Ron. She called his name and tried to hurry up and catch up to him when she again slipped and fell on the tiled floor. She was diagnosed with a fractured hip on a Wednesday afternoon and was transported to the Cardiff Royal Infirmary on Thursday July 30th, to have her hip reset. She passed away at 8:15 that evening on the operating table.
Jesse Winnifred Lawes and Albert Liversuch shared a long courtship before they married.
They raised three sons, and settled in Ely Cardiff, Wales. All three sons entered the Second World War and only one would return alive. Their youngest son Bert was killed on D-Day, 1944 and their middle son Ray was shot down over Dirkshorn, Holland in 1942 and would remain unrecovered for the next forty years.
In August of 1943, their new daughter-in-law Daisy (wife of oldest son Ron) arrived in Cardiff with their grandson Ron Jr. They would stay with Albert and Jessie until the end of the war when Ron would join them. Eventually Ron, Daisy and their son and new daughter would move into a prefab home of their own and later move to Canada.
Their small house now seemed a lot bigger as they were now alone for the first time since their first son had been born. With Albert being retired, they also had a great deal of time on their hands. Time to reflect on the nagging problem of their two missing sons. Bert had been listed as 'Missing in Action' in France since D-Day an Ray had been shot down over Holland and had remained unrecoverable.
Neither of them would live long enough to see Ray exhumed from the crash site in Holland, but their son Ron would finally be able to see that chapter closed and Ray given a proper burial in a marked grave on hallowed ground.
"War demands sacrifice of the people. It gives only suffering in return."
— Frederic Clemson Howe, Why War
The months passed and the patience grew thin. The realization that her two sons would never again come home to her. Never again would she hear the voices that she longed to hear. It became too much to bear.
In 1942, when Ray had been listed as 'Missing In Action' over Holland, Jessie was not willing to just sit and accept it. Her middle son was unaccounted for and she could not bear that. She set about writing letters to any government or military official who would listen. It was the beginning of a nine year campaign of letters and telegrams. She was never satisfied with a form letter, a telegram or a slip of paper with the least amount of efficient words on it that began with 'We regret to inform you...' as many of them did.
The trouble was that there were many missing airmen over Holland and many planes downed by the German fighters.
At first, Jessie wrote polite inquiries to the The War Office, the R.A.F. and the Department of National Defence. She gleaned what little information for her cause from the 'Womens' Section" of the Royal British Legion and her volunteer position in the Red Cross.
Months, even years, passed and she was presented with a telegram announcing that her youngest son Bert was also missing in action as of D-Day. Now she wrote even more letters in search of both sons. Eventually, she received the bittersweet news that Bert's body had been located and buried. At that time Ray was still listed as 'Missing in Action' and had not yet been located.
Through her association with the Royal British Legion, Jessie was allowed to attend meetings and ask many, many questions. There, she met other comrades and made contacts that might be able to assist in her cause. She participated in many varied committees and undertakings, and became a service officer herself. All in the efforts to search for more information to find her missing son.
A Letter from the Royal British Legion, Wales Area;
Mrs. A. Liversuch,
Dear Mrs. Liversuch
With reference to your visit to this office in connection with your late son, it would be appreciated if you would call here any day except Saturdays.
This was to be the first of many visits to the Wales area offices of the Royal British Legion. She carried a heart full of hope and a mind full of dreaded uncertainty.
Mrs. A. Liversuch,
Dear Mrs. Liversuch
With further reference to your visits to this office concerning your late son; our London Headquarters have now written stating that they have contacted the Air Ministry who write to say that they have no news regarding the resumption of salvage operations in Holland.
They have, however, asked their Liaison Officer with the Imperial War Graves Commission in Brussels, to make enquiries, and we are awaiting further information.
This scenario would play out again and again, Jessie finding a thread of hope and having that thread break, only to begin a search down a different avenue for answers as to the whereabouts of her son Ray. When a mother is searching for a lost son, it is hard to grasp that there are many other mothers searching for their own sons as well, and that the officials that have to answer to all these mothers can be very, very busy - to the point of inundated with requests for information.
Mrs. A. Liversuch,
Dear Mrs. Liversuch
We have been advised by Headquarters that they are taking up your case again with our Continental Office, als will write as soon as they have any further definite news to convey.
Each time one of these letters were received, Jessie and Albert were asked to drop by the offices to attend a discussion regarding the news.
Jessie and Albert's search was to last for nine years before they would find the definitive news as to Ray's actual location. Even then, he would be unreachable as the geography would make his recovery impossible. In lieu of a headstone, Jessie asked that a monument of some kind mark the spot where her son was laying so she could leave flowers and say a prayer.
Mrs. J.W. Liversuch
Dear Mrs Liversuch,
Your recent letter has been sent to our London Headquarters and we have now been advised that your suggestion regarding the erection of a memorial plaque or stone near to where your son crashed has been sent on to our Continental Representative.
We will write again more definite news.
For Area Secretary.
Things were beginning to hum for Jessie and Albert. There were frequent needs for a call to the local office in Cardiff with regard to correspondences that would be necessary to the London Office or to the headquarters in Brussels where a lot was confirmed by telephone and settled by letter the next day. The expected letter was received in due course in the Wales Area Headquarters and, as a matte of routine, Jessie was again asked to attend a discussion.
Mrs. A. Liversuch
Dear Mrs Liversuch,
I will be grateful if you would call to see me on Monday next, 26th instant at about 11 a.m. and in the meantime, I would like you to think of an appropriate inscription to be put on a brass plaque which will be placed in one of the churches. Between us, we can possibly arrive at a correct one.
I should also like to know at which church the plaque shall be placed, and I will also have a chat with you about the unveiling of this memorial.
For Area Secretary.
Then, D-Day happened and Albert and Jessie were informed that their Youngest son Bert was now missing in action. As yet, they had not known his whereabouts or even if he was in fact alive.
As if Ray's situation weren't enough to bear, Albert and Jessie now had two sons unaccounted for.
Jessie now stepped up her writing campaign to government officials and military commands and anyone else she could think of to demand their help with finding her sons.
A letter arrived at the home of Albert and Jessie in December 1946.
Date: Dec 4th, 1946
Dear Sir or Madam:
I take the liberty to write you concerning (14605779) Pvt Liversuch. According to information I have obtained from two Frenchmen, 14605779 Pvt Liversuch was killed on D-Day and buried in the civilian cemetery of Banneville-la-Campagne. As the village was, at the time, occupied by German troops who were pushed back only one month later, it seems that no British serviceman was able to record the name of the deceased.
So If it is possible, I would like to ler you know whether you have got news of Pvt Liversuch as that would be very helpful to those who are trying, first, to find out the correct identity of this soldier, then, to get in touch with the relatives, hoping that the news would bring them some relief.
The details I give you - namely: 14605779 Pvt Liversuch were recorded on D-Day by a Frenchman, by looking at the papers the deceased had in his pocket.
This was the first bittersweet news that Bert had been found and it was a great moment for Jessie and Albert. Jessie was visibly rejuvenated.
Following inquiries of his own, Ron received the following letter about his brother Bert.
28 December 1946
Dear Mr Liversuch
As I promised you in my latest letter, I am sending you a photograph of your brother's grave. I am sorry if it is not a very good one, but when weather conditions are better, I'll take better ones. Yet on the cross you can read all details.
Have you already gotten in touch with Msr, ****** and Msr, ******? I have let them know I have received a letter from you.
Yours, very sincerely,
Albert and Jessie would continue the efforts for as long as they could. They knew where Ray was but could not get to him to give him a proper burial. Bert was was now buried in France and they were able to visit his grave, which the grieving Jessie did whenever possible.
Albert would faithfully go with her to Holland and France on these sad trips, but at his advanced age, he complained that he was tiring and wished he could go somewhere else on a trip just once, or even rest at home. He cared for his dear wife Jessie, though and supported her, and accompanied her whenever she went.
This story ran in the Sunday Graphic Newspaper on July 8, 1951
Byline: Sunday Graphic Reporter
A mother's devotion and determination after a search lasting nine years has succeeded where the best brains of the Air Ministry have failed.
Mr. and Mrs. Albert Liversuch, of Ely, near Cardiff, have found the grave of their son, Sergeant Gunner-W.-O. Raymond John Liversuch, reported missing and presumed dead in July 1942.
To do so, they spent their life's savings, traveled hundreds of miles, many on foot and wrote scores of letters.
The scene of the crash, said the Air Ministry, could not be traced. Mrs. Liversuch decided that was not good enough, so she got in touch with the underground forces in France and Holland and, after the war, crossed the channel year after year, seeking information.
The final clue came from Ron Liversuch, the brother of the dead man who was told by a Canadian of a plane that had crashed at Harenkarspel in Holland that same night in July.
Mr. and Mrs. Liversuch left immediately for Holland and three miles from the little Dutch village of Dirkshorn, a farmer led them across a ploughed field. Then pointing to a stick and a piece of canvas which had come from the plane, he said: "There it is and he is with it."
owing to the nature to the ground, it was found impossible to recovery the body.
Through the British Legion, Mrs. Liversuch asked if a memorial might be placed in a local church. The Netherlands War Graves Committee immediately offered to pay for a plaque and invited the parents to the unveiling ceremony.
And afterwards, Mrs. Liversuch was presented with a marble urn filled with earth from the field.