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Local People in WW2: Gertrude Cook

A busy working mum on Mill Lane who found time to be kind to Prisoners of War:

"A very resourceful woman’s experience of life in Frampton Cotterell

during the Second World War Years

Gertrude Cook nee Bryant 1909 to 2004.

Based on extracts from her Funeral Address and information provided by her niece Janet, who was the baby, and her great niece Sarah .

Gertrude Bryant was born in 1909 in Bristol , and in 1931 she married Bill Cook. In 1937 they moved to No 4 Mill Lane, formerly The New Inn, Frampton Cotterell.

Gertrude and Bill Cook worked very hard building up a small holding and haulage business and during the Second World War Bill was kept very busy , taking animals to farms and markets while Gertrude took responsibility for transport forms, eking out the petrol coupons, making sure drivers kept their vehicles properly looked after, and handing out wages. The “ office” was used for other things than business- and could on occasions be full of feathers , as Gertrude plucked chickens there.

On Sunday mornings, after the children returned from Sunday School, the house was full of people, drivers, friends and family- up to 20 people in all. They all liked Gertrude’s lovely cakes and delicious apple pies, for she was an excellent cook. She was famous for her bread puddings.

Gertrude seems to have been very kind , when Gertrude’s widowed father, Alfred Bryant, married again in 1944 he and his wife went to live with them. Apparently Alfred enjoyed visiting The Globe pub opposite the house. Gertrude’s brother, John Henry Edward Bryant, was serving in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy. His wife , Rosina, was pregnant and Gertrude also welcomed her to stay with them during the later stages of the war, and probably was a great help in looking after the baby.

Gertrude had her routine of washing, cooking and cleaning for the week, with each day having its appointed task, and in between all this managed to find the time to make clothes for all the children , and even made a suit for Bill, all without any training.

During air-raids in the war the pantry at the house , which was below ground, served as an air raid shelter both for Gertrude and Bill’s family and for the Lamb family , who used to run to safety from three fields away, often only half dressed.

Bill and Gertrude’s lorries used to take prisoners of war to farms to work, and when the prisoners were billeted in Winterbourne Gertrude invited two of them to come to tea on Sundays , for which they were very grateful. Gertrude kept some thank you letters which these German prisoners of war had sent to her.

Gertrude and Bill moved on to various homes and different jobs locally, and eventually lived in a pensioners bungalow in Winterbourne. Bill died in 1978 and Gertrude organised two sponsored walks to raise funds for equipment for the hospital who had cared for him. Gert was always very busy, knitting for charity, as a founder member of the Silver Chords Afternoon Club, as an active member of the Women’s Section of the British Legion, and even shook hands with the Queen Mother.

At the age of eighty Gertrude went for a ride in a Hot Air Balloon. Gertrude died at the age of 95 years old and had chosen to be buried next to her father in St peter’s Church graveyard. By the end of her long life Gertrude had had 4 children, one of who was still born, 13 grand children, 29 great grand children and 7 great, great grandchildren.

Gertrude had requested that she was buried next to her father in St Peter’s Church graveyard.

“ Gertrude was a wonderful example to all. When hard times came she just squared her shoulders, picked up the pieces and started again. “

Gertrude Cook 1.jpg
Gertrude Cook 2.jpg
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Letters from Prisoners of War that Gertrude kept:

1947 POW  thanks  letters  .jpg

Tony Cook, who is the little boy in the pictures above, has told us that the POW camp in Winterbourne was on the way to Winterbourne Down - near where the Winterbourne View care home is today.

1947 Detail  POW thank you  .jpg
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