Leslie Raymond Bickham was a man of infinite patience and loving kindness. Yet, endless self abasement, which was quite unavailing as try as he might, being gallant and gay he pursued earthly love almost to the end.

Born in Somerset in the year 1905 the sixth child of a family of ten of which one was lost before puberty, he grew up part of a very close, almost clannish family unit. The head of the family was an engine driver in the days when that occupation was held in high esteem.

So, many of the children, the boys at least followed the same career. L.R. Bickham was for twenty three years, from the age of fourteen, working his way up on the dining cars from pantry boy (or page) to conductor. He had a splendid record of fair work for fair wages and was liked and admired by all, customers, subordinates and his betters.

Then fate decided to deal him a different hand and his life changed from that moment on never to return to those halcyon days again.

His state of health was never up to the A1 mark and he was turned down by the three services at the beginning of the war. He carried on with his job much to the disapproval of the unenlightened of that time who were not averse to sneering at and snubbing people who for one reason or another were not in uniform.

Then he met a woman who bewitched him and led him away to who knows what sort of life for a while. He never spoke of it apart from often repenting and asking forgiveness from his family until his dying day. Not that he was ever cured of his admiration of the fairer sex but he never again made the mistake of putting a peccadillo or two before his duty to the women and children he loved. Before his dramatic return to grace he volunteered for the M.N. as Steward, the only trade he knew. Unwilling or maybe unable to return to the G.W.R. (Great Western Railway) he served in the M.N. until the end of the war making retribution in his own view for what is nowadays almost convention.

After the war he could not settle to any job and tried his hand as bus conductor, cafe owner, sub post master, bakers delivery man, railway porter, guest house keeper all over the country from the west of Wales to London and back. Finally to go into a decline which took years until his death in October 1970.

Here then is an account of some of his journals. Unfortunately some have been lost over the years.

Margaret Anise Jones nee Bickham