|Mickey Davies aka Mickey the Midget and a family friend (Author's collection)|
Regular readers will remember that this article first appeared in March 2016 and was one of those stories that immediately caught people's imaginations. Therefore, last week I was delighted to receive feedback and a subsequent e-mail from Mickey's daughter, Simone Davies, in which she pointed out one or two inaccuracies which had crept into my original story and also kindly gave some more insights to her late father's life.
The main error was in the spelling of Mickey's surname - I had used three main sources for the article - two pieces by the journalist Ritchie Calder and a further article that appeared in Optical Connections magazine. Two out of the three spelled his name 'Davis' whilst the original Ritchie Calder chapter from his book 'Carry on London!' had what turned out to be the correct spelling of 'Davies.' Unfortunately, I took the majority view and decided upon the wrong version but am happy to correct the spelling. The other main problem was the identity of the lady in the above photo, which again in two out of the three source pieces, identified her as being Mickey's wife, whilst in 'Carry on London!' she was not identified in any way. Simone pointed out that the lady in question was a family friend who just happened to be in the shelter when Calder was visiting. Apparently, at some point she was wrongly identified as being Mickey's wife and the story gained legs. Once again, I'm happy to put the record straight. The other inaccuracy that I perpetuated was the question of Mickey's height - the story of him being only 3 feet 6 inches tall is another urban myth that has been repeated over the years, when in fact he was a foot taller than this, so as with the other issues, I've set the record straight below.
With Simone's permission, I'm happy to repeat her email below - it clearly (and rightly) shows the pride in her Dad's achievements and offers some fascinating insights into what sort of man he was:
"Anyway, the lady in the picture was a family friend who happened to be in the shelter at the time when the journalist did the story - when and how she got mistaken for my mother I don't know. Also, my father was about four feet four, not three foot four, which is another error that has followed the story for years. I do have my parents wedding photos but most photos, i.e. the Boys' Club etc., and other bits have been given to my nephew who is now the keeper of all the family photos/papers/history etc.
I was very young when my father died but have loads of really nice and also some funny stories told by my mother to me and my sister of my father, the shelter and both of my parents parts in the war (she was in the Local Control, so sending out Ambulances and Rescue Teams to local bombings.) Also the Boys' Club (which wasn't basic but as you can imagine with anything organised by my father, well equipped and very nice.) His political and social work following the war. His Optician 'Shop' was relocated to his study at our home. He was a very much loved and respected man. His shelter visited by people from American ex-Presidents to Clementine Churchill (all signed his visitors' book) and counted amongst his friends following the war were people from Peter Rowntree to the leader of the Labour Party.
By the way, my father was only 43, not 46 when he died.
I hope these give you a tiny bit more insight into my father's life."
The original article, duly corrected and updated, is repeated below. I'm hoping to receive some more stories about Mickey and his life from Simone and if so, I will make a further update so as to share this information.
One of the many pleasures of my job (if you can call it a job) is that friends and acquaintences often become part of an extended detective network, alerting me to finds they have made that are of interest to my Second World War hobby that has now become a substantial part of my living. Such a find came to light recently, when a friend presented me with a delightful little book called Lilliput Goes to War, an anthology of articles, photographs and drawings that appeared in the pocket magazine Lilliput during the wartime years of 1939-45.
|Entrance to the now-demolished Fruit and Wool Exchange (Hackney Gazette)|
|Lilliput Goes to War (author's image)|