Happy 94th Birthday Elaine Cynthia Wheeler

Today would have marked the 94th birthday of Nana, Elaine Cynthia Hassett (born in Bombay, India, 20 November 1923; died in 1981). 

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Sadly, I never got to meet Nana. Those who did meet her, describe her as ‘one in a million’, ‘too good to be true’, ‘everybody was always welcome in her home – the door was never locked’, ‘she LOVED children’. That does not do full justice to the great woman I am sure she was. Her memory lives on through three generations: Elaine’s five children, their thirteen children [Grandchildren], and the twelve children (so far) of the thirteen children(!) [Great Grandchildren]

As posted last year, thanks to an ever-generous family, I have been fortunate to read many of Nana’s diaries, letters and writing. Within these she highlights a number of her favourite songs and films. A selection of some of Nana’s favourites are available below, including:

  • Bless ’em all – Vera Lynn
  • South Of The Border – Frank Sinatra
  • “Run, Rabbit, Run!” – Harry Bidgood
  • The washing on the Siegfried Line (We´re gonna hang out) – Jimmy Kennedy

Watched “Where were you on the day war broke out.” It brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. Thirty years ago. Oh how young I was. The songs I loved they played. Same recordings, “South of the Border”, “Bless Em All”, “Run Rabbit Run”, “Washing on the Siegfried Line” etc. 

Elaine Cynthia Wheeler, diary entry, 3 September 1969

Nana highlighted many films that she liked to watch. This one stood out for her reference to her school days (which links to her extensive song book – more on this later).

Watched “The Great Waltz” lovely Johan Strauss’ songs. Takes me back to my school days. 

Elaine Cynthia Wheeler, diary entry, 30 April 1969

Today will forever be a momentous day of the year. The birth of the person at the centre of the Anglo-Indian Project and my constant motivation for pursuing this as far as I can.

Happy birthday, Nana.



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