Over 70 years separate these two photographs which recall a very special family moment as World War II drew to a close.
Taking centre stage in both is Robert Bickham, who was the babe in arms in the photograph taken after his christening at Pembroke Dock’s Royal Dockyard Chapel in April 1945.
Robert, who emigrated to Australia with his family in 1971, paid his first visit ‘home’ to Pembroke Dock recently and visited the Dockyard Chapel – now the town’s Heritage Centre. He was joined by his wife, Pamela, daughter, Lesley, and other relatives who live locally and in south Wales.
In 1945 the Dockyard Chapel was the church serving the RAF Station and its squadrons of Sunderland flying boats. Robert’s father, Patrick, was based locally with the RAF, supporting operations by the Sunderlands. Robert’s mother, Edith, was a Pembroke girl but was living in Pembroke Dock – formerly Miss Reynolds.
The christening was conducted by Royal Canadian Air Force Chaplain, Squadron Leader the Honourable R. W. G. Braine, and the godparents were Wing Commander Dick Oldham, the commanding officer of an Australian squadron flying Sunderlands from ‘PD’, Flight Lieutenant Stuart, RAF, and Miss A. Dyson.
After Robert’s family emigrated to Australia his parents paid a holiday visit to them and soon after were themselves accepted to live in Australia, later being joined by their daughter, Jean, and her husband Victor Williams. The family home is in Brisbane, Queensland.
During their holiday in west Wales the Bickham family also visited old friends and locations in Whitland. Before emigrating Robert worked in the slaughter house at Whitland and the family lived in St George’s Avenue, Velfrey Road.
The christening group pictured on the steps of the Royal Dockyard Chapel in 1945 and Robert Bickham and his family members at the same location – now the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre – in June.