A death after the War - and 50 years a widow

Private John Melean died in a military hospital back in Southampton, two months after the end of the war. Neighbours had raised money so his wife Madeline, who had nine children, could travel to see him. But she was too late. His great-grandaughter takes up the story:

John Melean was born 5th August 1881 at 12 Adelaide St,Docks. By 1891, the Census has him living at 21 Oakley Street in Grangetown. And by 1901, he had married to Madeline and was living at 12 Clive St. In 1911, the Census shows the family living at 145 Clive Street - and this was to be.the famly home until 1976.

John was one of 11 children and his parents were Otto Melean (born 1851, Tonsberg Norway) and Honorah Coleman (born 1854 Ireland, they married in 1875 in Passage West Co Cork). Otto was a fisherman. We're not sure of the "Melean" surname as the marriage certificate shows "Melin" but through a few variations of this the "Melean" family name finally arrived.

John Melean's medal rolls index for the Great War show him as serving with A.S.C, then Northumberland Fusiliers before the Tank Corps.

The family story handed down through the generations is that John's wife Madeline knew he was arriving home to Southampton but she couldn't afford the train fare to meet him, so family, friends and neighbours in Clive Street and the surrounding streets had a 'whip around' to gather enough money to get her to Southampton and back.

Sadly John died in the military hospital in February 1919 - two months after the end of the war - of pneumonia, leaving Madeline as a widow at age 39 with nine children aged 20 down to four. John is buried at Cathays Cemetery with his father Otto, who died in 1915; later in 1937 his mother Honorah would be buried alongside her husband and son.

A headstone from Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorates this. Madeline worked hard to raise all her children from 145 Clive St, they all married and worked and lived in the surrounding streets and visited her every day with their own families. I feel very privileged and honoured to have been born at 145 Clive St, and into such a strong family where I knew all of these aunties, uncles and their families through their visits to her. She died in 1969 aged 91 in the 'middle room' of No 145. A truly special lady.

Aileen Thyer, great-grandaughter of John and Madeline Melean

Grangetown War Memorial