Reunited with grandfather’s vehicles after almost 70 years

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A VISIT to the Pallot Steam Museum took 79-year-old Pauline Botting back to her childhood this week as she was reunited with vehicles once owned by her grandfather Francis Richardson Le Brun.

It provided the latest chapter in the story of Mrs Botting’s efforts to uncover more about her past and, in particular, the fate of her father, Paul Klimaszewski, a German soldier billeted in the Island during the Occupation. She only discovered his identity from a photograph she found among her grandfather’s possessions.

After the war, Mrs Botting left Jersey as a child with her mother who ‘made a quick exit’ from the Island, simply telling others that she was a wartime widow. They began a new life in England but when they returned periodically on holiday to visit members of the family, Mrs Botting would be collected from the harbour by her grandfather in his 1929 Vauxhall R2060 Kimpton Saloon.

She had not seen that car for almost 70 years until she was contacted by the Pallot Steam Museum, following publication in the JEP last October of a series of Temps Passé photographs taken on her grandfather’s farm, Pond View, in St Ouen. They recognised some as part of their permanent collection.

‘They said that if I was ever in the Island again they would be pleased if I came to visit and they would show me the vehicles. It was really fantastic,’ Mrs Botting said after spending the morning at the museum in Trinity.

Among the collection, she found the 1933 Dodge 30cwt lorry and the 1923 Fordson Model F petrol TVO tractor which were clearly recognisable from the photographs she had inherited and brought in to the JEP for publication.

While the tractor was in use before she was born, Mrs Botting recalled having seen the lorry, but it was the Vauxhall car that brought memories flooding back.

‘I remember the car very well because my grandfather would pick us up in it when we arrived on the mail boat. He would put the luggage on a special rack at the back and he used to put a long stool up for the children to sit on. We thought we were very grand driving around in this fantastic car,’ she recalled.

Although the car was not roadworthy this week, its current owner, Peter Kirwan, offered Mrs Botting the prospect of a spin on a future visit, something which she said she would greatly look forward to.

But while the visit to the Steam Musem provided the highlight of her latest visit to Jersey, she remains despondent about her efforts to track down information about what happened to her father, following his transfer from the Island towards the end of the Occupation.

‘It really is a mystery which it is sad to think might never be solved,’ she said, after most recent inquiries made with archives in Germany failed to provide information about his military postings towards the end of the war.

Needless to say, Mrs Botting would be delighted if any readers could provide further information on the man who was batman to the German Major who requisitioned her grandfather’s house, Pond View.

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