click here 

 

DOROTHY SMITH - BORN 12/02/1925
ADOPTED: BIRTH NAME - HOPE RITCHIE

Dorothy was born on the 12th March 1925 in Linwood, Christchurch, New Zealand. She was born under the name of Hope Ritchie and was adopted at the age of 8 weeks. I do know the name of the natural mother but for obvious reasons I need to keep the research of that side of the family private. If anyone from her natural family needs to know, then please email me.
She felt the circumstances of her adoption very keenly and never got over the feeling of rejection although she had never been able to find out about any of the underlying circumstances.

The circumstances of the adoption are more confusing than normal. She was adopted by Hope Ritchie born 12th march 1925 Linwood, Christchurch, New ZealandFrederick Ellis Smith and his 2nd wife, Emily. They had only been married for 8 weeks, themselves. For a couple of years, Fred and Emily had a farm in the Bay of Plenty (family history - may not be fact). They left New Zealand very suddenly with Emily taking Dorothy directly to England with Fred taking a different ship, on a different route. She was called by her birth name of Hope for several years and then Fred and Emily told her that she should be called Dorothy.

 

When Dorothy was about 8 years old, she remembered a tall, red haired man visiting the familyDorothy smith aged 10. He crouched down in front of her and made her repeat over and over again, a place name in New Zealand and told her that she must never forget it - she forgot it. She herself, incidentally was a flaming red head with blue eyes. In her teens she was known as "Ginny" which was short for ginger.

Emily and Fred then came to the door, bustled Dorothy away and then told the man to leave in no uncertain terms, reminding him that he promised never to contact them.

The family lived in Stratford-Upon-Avon where they remained for a number of years. Two children were born to Emily and Fred - a boy named Raymond and a girl named Rose-marie.

Dorothy Smith in WAAF uniform WWIIAt the beginning of the war, Dorothy lied about her aged and joined the WAAF. This was with Fred's approval who signed the papers. She was a Leading Air Craft Woman and was a skilled flight mechanic serving at several stations. Like most people in the services, she was awarded two medals - in her own words "one for starting the war and one for finishing it". During her youth and war years she was always known by the nickname of "Ginny"

 

She met her husband, Donald Gray through his neice Hazel Bellows. The Gray family lived next door to her family where they then lived in Totton, Hampshire. She was introduced to Don at a party given to welcome him home from the war. They were married in December, 1946.

The years rolled by and three children arrived. The family moved to Hythe, Hampshire in 1956 and remained there until 1979 when Don and Dorothy emigrated to Australia. The eldest daughter and family had emigrated four years previously, their son went with them and the youngest daughter and family followed two later.

During the earlier years, her generosity was legendary. A flood or an earthquake would see nearly all of the family clothes, blankets and children's toys being packed off and sent to someone more deserving. By the same token, her cooking skills weren't legendary - strange things could happen to food on it's way from the stove to the table.

She could play the piano, had a wonderful singing voice and was an excellent swimmer. Her intelligence was very keen and she didn't suffer fools gladly. She was definitely feisty. The stories of her eccentricity abound within the family and she will be remembered for her sense of humour. She learned to drive at the age of 56.

Not long after they arrived in Australia, Don suffered from a series of strokes and Dorothy nursed him for more than 10 years until he passed away on their 44th wedding anniversary.

After Don's death, she settled down to a single life in her little cottage by the sea in a smallDorothy Smith aged 70 community which she loved. She had an old battered car in which she toured most of Australia on her annual holiday. She never made plans as to where she was going to go - she just backed out of the driveway and pointed her car. Sometimes she didn't even plan the holiday.

A trip out for a loaf of bread might turn into an impulsive jaunt to Darwin.

Dorothy passed away very suddenly on the 15th July 2010. Her funeral was held in the little church at Port Germein which was packed to the rafters on the day.

She and Don rest together in the cemetery there, which overlooks the sea.