To clarify there were 8 children born to Henry Otto
FLEUSS, seven married and 6 of these were girls
of the Guise-Fleuss Family in Streatham
Vera Guise, grand-daughter of Henry
Joseph Fleuss, the artist and first Drawing Master of Marlborough
College and was the daughter of Henry
Otto Fleuss - Clerk and Heraldic Artist.
To write about Vera Guise, or
Mater as she was known by her family and friends, seems an impossible
task. She was a giant within
the family, among friends and probably in the local neighbourhood.
It is difficult to document
Mater's life from a factual point of view and so most of our understanding
of her is derived by extrapolating from the impact that she had on other
people. There is probably only one person alive that could do justice, in
writing, to her life. This article is an effort to relate personal
memories, and draw together comments made over the years by family members
that encountered her.
She was the youngest of 8
children and maybe had many of the attributes associated with a sibling in
that position. In this respect a comparison can be drawn between her and
Margaret Dibdin, the youngest of 9 children, who was the aunt of her son's
She was intensely proud of the
achievements of her ancestors
My own knowledge is based on the
hearsay from wartime London and limited contact with her in the the
It can be taken for granted that
this passionate and emotional woman was devastated by the death of he son
during the war. He was the apple of her eye, in fact of most people's, and
being left with two daughters, albeit loyal ones was no compensation.
There was obvious friction between Mater and her daughter in law, Joan,
whom she felt had stolen her son from her, during the mid war years.
To get some insight it is worth
looking at what there is available of the lives of her three
Marie, Yvonne, Anthony
and the introduction into her family of Joan
Dibdin and her brother.
What is known about of of the
family at this time in WW2 is written about in the Booklet Three Lives in World
War 2 although seen though the eyes of Joan and in some respects
Little seems to be known about
her life before 1939, and her life with Jules Guise but it is rumoured
that he was a little undemonstrative and it is sad to note that he died at
the young age of 50 in 1939.
During the war years and for some
years after Vera was recognised for her hospitality and of course the
pressure of war and bombing in London was a good enough reason for a party
at any time. "One may not live to see another day" . The Young
Dibdin family, Joan and her brother Peter, who were parentless, were both
grateful to be welcomed by the family. This occurred though the
intervention of Tony, who met Don Haycraft, Joan's cousin, while training
in Scotland and invited him to call in at any time at Pinfold Road.
Tony wrote home to his mother,
asking that he should be welcomed.
" Darling V,
Introducing Donald … pal of mine. Has met Gertie, the Andersons and Stevenson’s
– we do things together. Fix him up with bath & meals etc and get Widdy to
show him the local dumps and tell the girls to look after him. Know you’ll all
like him, he is quite used to me".
Don was in training as a Sergeant. The girls were of course Tony’s two
sisters of 22 and 20 years.
Also in the letter there is the statement that he should be home on leave on
the 20th June 1941.
Just at the end of the first blitz of bombing in London,
in early May 1941, Don Haycraft, with Joan, arrived on the doorstep at No 4
Pinfold Road. This first time visit was an introduction to wild excitable family
that consisted of Mater, and two daughters, Yvonne and Marie who were the doting
younger sisters of Tony.
The story goes that when Don and Joan arrived at 4 Pinfold Road, the two
girls were out at the local cinema. Some one was sent to fetch them out
of the film as some friends of Tony’s had arrived and so it was time to
From my memory of the early
1940's there were always people about and very often parties. There was bustle
and chatter and music and all this going on with Mater sort of static in
the middle. She obviously felt it right to have a watching eye over her
first grandchild, who she would have hoped to be the incarnation of her
son but she was given only limited access.
Some insights into the nature of
the relationship with the family can be gleaned from letters from Tony to
his mother during the war period especially if looked at in juxtaposition
to those written to his new love and wife.
08/11/1941 -Letter from Tony to Mater
from Poolewe Achnasheen
Thanks for a glorious leave ......Planning for a spring offensive ......Give my love to everyone old dear
Again many thanks for a glorious time and many thanks for keeping the
atmosphere clear. Do try to understand Joanna Darling – she’s not very
used to family life and may be a bit strange at times but she’s a
wonderful kid and does so want to be loved by you all and does so want a
home – so be good to her …"
Summary of letters to
Vera from her son, Tony in WW2
Letter to Vera from Tony
in India during WW2 in
which he delighted in describing to her the menu for a meal and the Taj
Mahal Hotel in Bombay.
by the family giving insights into the nature of Vera.
|From a Letter from Muriel, daughter of Dorothy, Vera's sister,
talking about her mother.
Much could be written about her. She was
rather a complex person not unlike Aunt Vera by what Yvonne and
Maria say. Quite dramatic and theatrical in a way. Fainting at
will or going to her supposed “sick bed” if things didn’t
always go quite right. I must say it stopped with her. Ursula and
I did not inherit it. It served her well in the early years and
being obedient children we always buckled under to “keep the
peace” at all costs. As we grew into adulthood we could see
through a lot of it.
|From Celia, grand daughter of Vera's sister,
Katherine Edith, referring to photographs
Vera reminds me of my mothers half sister
Margaret (always called Peggy) I have photos of her all
costumed up and in some play or other. Peggys daughter Betty
was in fact married from Pinfold Road home in Streatham, I
found a note Marie Guise which she sent to me in 2001
|From a letter to Richard Stenning from Gerald Fleuss in 1992
There seems to have been an
official issue over Vera's nationality which did echo down to her son,
Tony, when he wish to apply for officer training.
01/05/1940 -Letter from Tony to Mater
Hopes that when Mater reclaims English Nationality that she gets a
01/11/1940 -Letter from Tony to Mater
Just arrived in Scotland ...... Please send chess set as he has met another human being.
.....Really sorry about asking for money. .....Recommend for commission but
Nationality issue is insurmountable .....Six months since being home
|From Marie to Richard Stenning
The Mystery of Hugh B Heinrich --From Ancestry:
Hugh B Heinrich born in 1912 in Eastry mother's maiden
name Fleuss -
Meanwhile Dorothy aged 30, who was to marry Arthur 2
years later, was at 10 Osbourne Road, Broadstairs with her sister, Vera
aged 20. No.10 was a home of 32 women aged 78 to 17 years old.
Both girls referred to in the 1911 Census as Help at Home
Dorothy Fleuss married Arthur Heinrich in 1914 just
before the outbreak of war
In the 1911 Census Arthur Heinrich, born in Germany in
1884 was visiting a house in Fulham
He worked as a superintendent for an Insurance Co.
There is an entry in Ancestry for the marriage of Hugh B Heinrich
or Hugh B Atkins to Rosa Gerson in South Eastern
Surrey in 3rd quarter of 1937.
Hugh Ben Atkins born 2 Jun 1912 died in Aug 1984 in
Hastings and Rother.
Rosa Atkins born 17 Mar 1912 died in Sept 1996 in Hastings
A birth certificate and/or marriage
certificate would explain more.
( Just to add to the mystery:
Heinrich S Gerson married to Florshein or Lazarus in 3rd
quarter of 1942 - probably no connection)