Quaintance Bill


Bill Quaintance

William Stanley Quaintance was born on 15th June 1904 in Gittisham Devon and joined the Royal Medical Corp on the 2nd August 1923, aged 19 as a medical orderly. He married Winifred Nina Bird in Tendring in Essexon 28th May 1927; although he was then based at an army camp in Northampton, she lived in London Road, Clacton-on-Sea.

Having served in Shanghaiand Constantinople, he was discharged on 1st August 1935and ended up back in Essex, working in building Billy Butlin's holiday camp, a task that was the precursor to camps for soldiers in the war.  Life in civvy street clearly held some problems for Bill; perhaps the marriage was different when the husband was away so much.

But the couple then had a son, Brian, on 18th January 1936 at Gascoyne, Jaywick Lane, Great Clacton. For whatever reason, the marriage did not stand the strain and Quaintance left the family when the baby was only three months old, seemingly simply disappearing. 

Just before the war, Quaintance eventually landed up in Jarrow, putting concrete linings around the oil terminals in the docks. He appears to have, perhaps tentatively, begun a new relationship in Jarrow. But this was now heavily tested, since Quaintance’s new partner was sent to carry out work in the munitions industry in Birmingham. She and Quaintance seemed to have done their courting around the Vale of Evesham and Tewkesbury. 

Then the couple married, bigamously, back in Jarrow, on the 3rd October 1942, Quaintance stating on the marriage certificate his address was 37 Hancock Street, Stratford, London. It should be stressed that bigamy was actually fairly common in these days, whilst divorce was expensive and uncommon. Incidentally, the second Mrs Quaintance also faced tragedy at this time when her eldest brother hung himself aged only 13 on the 14th October 1942, when he was evacuated to Bury StEdmund's. Further stress arose when Quaintance’s bigamy was found out.  

He was back into the army on the 15th June 1943 and a daughter, Marjorie was born in the August. Quaintance was court martialled on the 30th October 1943 and given 18 months. It was a difficult time for morals; a girl on the same charge sheet, one Florence Heyes, was given 3 years penal servitude for an illegal abortion.

Eventually, Quaintance was re-enlisted into the army on the 28th December 1944and finally discharged on the 13th February 1946.  His second wife was by then was in Manchester, having been sent there on munitions work. The family were given a council house, where Bill eventually died on the 9th November 1956at 9 Ridding Avenue, Crossacres, Wythenshawe, after working worked at Dunlop’s Rubber for some years. 

It is not clear when Quaintance was involved with the Communist Party but it surely likely to have been at least from when he arrived in Jarrow, searching for a new life; though it is possible that his allegiance formally began only on arriving in Manchester. 

His daughter, Marjorie did not know of her father’s political allegiance until when, some time in the 1960s, she applied to be a house nanny for Nueman, the shop people, in the USA. She was actually refused entry because her father had been a Communist, the first she'd heard of it!  

Although it was known by the family that Bill had a close friend in Denville Crescent, Crossacres, who was a member of the Communist Party.  Little else is known of this unusually named Communist, who life was, to say the least, extremely chequered.  But his descendants would like to hear from anyone who may know of Bill Quaintance from his association with the Communist Party and they may be contacted via this site. 

Source: Marjorie Ross

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