Florence Ethel Tapping (1891 – 1986)
Written by Mark Tapping
In Western Australia Flo and her family joined John and his family on a remote wheat farm outside Bruce Rock. They all managed to live in one wood and corrugated iron house. Flo had brought her own bed linen all the way from England with her and was absolutely disgusted when it was stained brown with droppings of condensation from the rusty roof (there were no ceilings). However, the living arrangement was temporary until Frank found employment in Latham, in the outback, where they moved into another timber and corrugated iron (but rather better appointed) building. Here Flo opened a small restaurant in a front room and I remember the chequered table cloths. I also remember the continued fight against the voracious Australian flies with fly papers and swats (DDT not yet being available). Warren attended a boarding school in Perth and Mark went to Latham’s village school.
From Latham the family moved to Applecross in Perth and overlooking the Canning River. This was also in a timber and iron building, as was the family’s next home in Guildford, not far from the Swan River. Here, Flo often took the children swimming in the nearby water but this came to an abrupt end when, one day, Flo got out of the river and found a dozen leeches clinging to her legs and between her toes.
World economic conditions continued to deteriorate with a drastic effect on agricultural based communities such as Western Australia at the time. Unemployment rose and jobs became extremely hard to find. Frank even worked at Carnarvon, along the Western Australian coast, for a time. Eventually he and Flo decided in 1931 to return to England and, by chance, sailed home in the same boat in which they had come.
In England they settled for a while in a thatched cottage belonging to Frank’s brother Will, in Lower Road, Stoke Mandeville. This was followed by a brief spell in Fleet Marston where Frank worked on Jerome’s farm. Fleet Marston was known as the parish without a parish and here the family attended what is probably the smallest and most solitary church in the county.