I’m spoiled for choice since my database includes:
4 Daniel Heenans
13 David Heenans
14 Dennis/Denis Heenan
5 Doreen Heenans
5 Dorothy Heenans
I’ve written about some of the Dennis Heenans previously (see here for example) so I’m going to go with a different name this time.
Douglas George Heenan 1883-1934
Douglas George was the youngest son of William Henry Heenan and Hannah Parnell, and the brother of Claude Rigby Heenan who featured as my subject for the letter C.
Like his elder brother, Douglas George also served in World War 1 though in a very different capacity.
He joined the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in March 1916. Founded by King George V in 1912, the RFC operated as the air arm of the British Army throughout World War 1. It merged with the Royal Naval Air Service on 1 April 1918 to form the Royal Air Force.
During the early part of the war, the RFC provided the British Army with artillery support and photographic reconnaissance. Later they were involved in aerial battles with German pilots, the bombing of German military airfields and strategic bombing of German industrial and transport facilities.
Service records for Douglas George show that he embarked for France on 21 July 1916, initially based at 1AD and subsequently at 2AD. These were the air supply and repair depots at St Omer and Candas. The depots received, modified and issued (direct to the front line) new aircraft, maintained an attrition reserve and overhauled and reconstructed aircraft, balloons and vehicles.
Both depots played a critical role in maintaining the operational effectiveness of the RFC during the Battles of the Somme and Third Ypres. “In the face of rapidly growing attrition, every aircraft that the depôts could repair or rebuild and every component or engine that could be salvaged was crucial,” notes Cross & Cockade International (CCI), the First World War Aviation Historical Society.
Douglas George was a mechanical engineer during the war, whose skills and expertise would have been invaluable in helping keep aircraft maintained and ready for action at all times.
He returned to England in the middle of June 1917 where he was became part of the general establishment until his official discharge at Chingford, Essex on 30 April 1920.
After the war Douglas and his wife settled in Teddington, Middlesex, firstly at 4 Linden Grove and then, from 1926 at 61 Cambridge Gardens. They had three children: Eric Milton (born 1915); Michael G (born 1923) and Nigel Patrick (born 1926).
Douglas died in the Sunderland area, Durham, in 1934. His wife lived in Twickenham until her death in 1969.
There are a few pieces Douglas George’s life story that are a puzzle.
Firstly, his marriage.
Parish records for St Stephen’s Church in Richmond, Surry show that banns were read on three occasions in June 1914 for the marriage of Douglas George and Constance Winnifred. There is however no record of a marriage in the same parish nor is the marriage included in civil registration records for England and Wales.
The couple did however marry: in his airforce service records, Douglas George declared and provided evidence of his marriage to Constance Winnifred in British Columbia, Canada on 8 Aug 1914. There is a record of this marriage in the district of New Westminster, Vancouver on that date
So now we have another puzzle.
Why did the couple marry in Canada?
Neither had any family connection to Canada as far as I can determine. Constance’s father Douglas was a colonial George had travelled to Canada in July 1913, sailing from Liverpool to Montreal. He declared that his intention was to settle permanently in Canada. He gave his occupation as a bookbinder. Constance did not accompany him yet the following year, according to the marriage record, they are both resident in Vancouver (in separate dwellings).
Was the reason for their location in 1914, related in some way to Douglas George’s work? Clearly this couple made more trips across the Atlantic than I’ve found in records so far (for example there is a record of a trip by Constance in her married name from England to Vancouver in 1915 but no record of the journey in the opposite direction).
And that brings me to another puzzling factor about this man.
In 1911 in the census returns he describes himself as an electrical engineer working for a railway company
In 1913 on the passenger list for the SS Canada bound for Montreal, he describes himself as a bookbinder
His airforce service records say that in civilian life he was a mechanical engineer.
So was the trip to Canada an attempt to try a new profession in a new country which didn’t work out and so he reverted to his previous calling?
Frustrations galore. I’m hoping that one of the big genealogy database companies will digitise more records that would fill in the gaps.
- Civil registration, births England and Wales: Q4 1883, Credition, Devon. Vol 5b Page 391. Accessed via Find My Past.com
- Civil registration, deaths England and Wales: Q4 1934, Sunderland, vol 10a Page 581, Accessed via Find My Past.com
- Electoral register: Teddington, Middlesex, 1923, 1926, 1930 Accessed via ancestry.com from original records held by London Metropolian Archives
- Census of England and Wales, 1911, Teddington, Middlesex. RG14; Piece: 3574; Schedule Number: 189. The National Archives, Kew, accessed via Find My Past.com
Passenger Lists Leaving Uk 1890-1960, Accessed via Find My Past.com
- Royal Air Force Airmen Records, 1918-1940, The National Archives, AIR 79, Accessed via Fold3.com
- Civil registration, marriages, British Columbia. Accessed via FamilySearch.org