Jules Leonard SCHAUMBURG Doris Ada Ethel SCHAUMBURG Yvonne LEMESLE Dudley Palmer SCHAUMBURG Elsie May SOUNDY treeI20.gif

Bruce Clifton SCHAUMBURG

also known as Bruce Clifton HARRIS

also known as Bruce Clifton LEMESLE

also known as Bruce CLIFTON

3rd Sep 1909 - about 1992

Life History

3rd Sep 1909

Born

about 1938

Married Yvonne LEMESLE

about 1992

Died

 

His father, Jules Leonard Schaumburg, changed his surname to Harris on 14 August 1914. When he married his first wife, Yvonne Le Mesle, Bruce adopted her surname as she was the last in her line. As there were no children this remained the case and on her death Bruce used his middle name, Clifton, as his surname.

When I was first contemplating tackling this 'family history', I emailed Sylvia Murphy (Bruce's niece) with the story told to us by Bruce, that his father's real name was Prince Schaumburg-Lippe. Sylvia had also heard this story but categorically denied its truth. I had always assumed this to have been a bit of romancing on Bruce's part but I understand that Doris had a similar tale. So what truth, if any, there is in the story I do not know, and if 'none' whence sprung the myth? One source could, of course, have been their father himself, Jules Leonard Schaumburg. What is verifiable fact is that all three - Bruce, Doris and Dudley - were born in Calcutta.

Of his early life I am hazy, where he went to school and so on, although I dare say I have been told as Sally and I got to know Bruce quite well. We accompanied him on his farewell trip to Canada after he retired working there and moved back to England. But more of that anon. During the war I believe he was in the army but what bit and what rank I do not know. He was in Singapore at its surrender and consequently spent most of the war in Japanese prisoner of war camps. This next photograph was in the same frame as the photograph above, but inserted behind it and I assume is also of Bruce. What the uniform is, or the occasion, I have no idea. The cap badge and buttons are unclear in the original. Barely discernible on the badge over the breast pocket is what looks like 5 MCKERSON - but the 5 could be an S and none of it is clear.

After the war, he worked in electronics. How or why he picked up these skills I do not know. But after a spell working in England he emigrated to Canada where for the rest of his working life he was employed by the Canadian Ministry of Defence.

His first wife was, I think, the only child of a French antiques dealer. Being not just an only child but the ‘last of the line’ Bruce was either obliged or offered to take their family name, ‘Le Mesle’, in addition to his own. Whether there is documentary evidence of this I do not know. I always had the impression that things were not too good between Bruce and Yvonne, his first wife. She was the leading light of an outfit called, I think, ‘The Body Beautiful’. In any case it seems to have been some sort of movement devoted to women admiring themselves in mirrors for inordinate amounts of time. After Yvonne died Bruce married his second wife.

Elizabeth (other names not known) was the light of his life. Her death was, I think, one of a number of reasons for Bruce eventually returning to England as he seemingly lost interest in the surroundings where for the previous 15 or 20 years he had been so happy with Elizabeth.Elizabeth had been married previously and Bruce, in marrying her, acquired at least two step children. He had none of his own.

Apart from Elizabeth's death and his having retired, Bruce found the extreme cold and duration of Canadian winters trying. Ottowa, in whose general neighbourhood Bruce lived, is, as Bruce frequently reminded us, the world's coldest capital, colder than Moscow. The six months of winter made him think wistfully once more of dear old England, tea and crumpets by the fire and his sister Doris and half brother Dick. Bruce, like the rest of the family, was estranged from Dudley for some indefinable reason.

When she died Elizabeth's children must have been adult. I believe the son was a ne'er do well if not an actual convicted criminal. Or maybe he was a drunkard or involved in drugs or beat his wife - but there were dark looks and muttering at his mention. We never met him. The daughter, we did meet and seemed not much better although that might be a bit harsh. Themselves presumably the victims of a broken home, she was possibly just not very organized or adept at coping with life. Be that as it may, there seemed to be a succession of 'men' followed equally rapidly by a succession of bastards. But because they were Elizabeth's kids, Bruce was prepared to 'suspend his disbelief' - certainly as far as the daughter was concerned. I think even the mother had despaired of the son. Not that Bruce thought the daughter was faultless; he simply felt she should be helped as far as he possibly could as that is what Elizabeth would have wished. (This is a good man.)

So when Bruce left Canada he basically gave his home and as much of his goods and chattels as he could spare or for which he had no further need to the daughter. Included in his redistribution of wealth Bruce entrusted the safe keeping of his two dogs which, on our return visit it bevame apparent the daughter had promptly had killed. Sorry; 'put down.' So there was a certain strain to the reunion! Ostensibly Bruce went back to Canada to tidy up his affairs, but in reality I think it was a good excuse for him to see his old buddies one more time. We needed no urging to tag along - all expenses paid. And in case it is not already apparent, Bruce was always unstintingly generous with money and possessions. That did not mean that he was any sort of a pushover. Like Dick and Doris, while he was moderate and tolerant he held strong views about life and standards of behaviour, upon which, if circumstances demanded, he would voice his opinions in no uncertain terms. I remember we (that is myself and Bruce) were poles apart on the nuclear debate - both as regards the so-called nuclsears arms deterrant and the use of nuclear power for civil energy. He was also scoffingly dismussive of the anti-smoking lobby and health freaks in general. He was certainly a lousey advertisement in any health debate being a staunchly sedentary drinker and smoker. In spite of which he lived to a ripe old age, kept his marbles and was of a spare and gaunt physique.

Whatever the truth behind Bruce being the son of a minor German princeling, he was certainly a bon viveur. When in Canada he had owned smart cars - a vintage Rolls and some American speed machine - lost on me I'm afraid. Some close friends of his from work and he had formed a loose group called The Philosophers whose main pirpose it seems had been to diwn copious amounts of alcohol and eat salt beef and dill pickle sandwiches. We were intriduced to the latter by Bruce when in Canada and, being already part way philosophical myself I was a total convert after the sandwishes. He was also an evangelical smoker, deriding all the arguments contra. Indeed, when he was finally admitted to the nursing home his first demand was for an ash tray which, with much tut tutting and lecturing about smoking in bed, fire regulations and so on was brought to him. He was after all paying! And there's the proof! (see above).

Whether or not he was the son of a prince he was certainly the grandson of a painter. He was a keen and talented painter in oils. We have one or two of his pictures which he brought back to England, but the best of his work is probably in Canada. I certainly saw two or three very good, large canvases in over there. All his paintings that I know of are landscapes and, as he did most of his painting in Canada, water is a recurrent theme as are the truly amazing colours of the autumnal leaf change. He painted for money and for pleasure, doing commisions where requested. Among the latter were at least 18 versions of "the bloody Packenham Bridge." This was a stone, five arch (?) bridge of some historical significance - maybe the oldest such in Canada? but at any rate a noteable attration local to where he lived and whose reperesenation was evidently much in demand. His paintings are representational without being fussy, accurate, and skillful. They break no new ground, but then who does? The brush-strokes are bold and the colour confidently applied.

Among his most treasured possessions was a painting that Elizabeth did of the Tang (?) dynasty bronze horse usually known as The Flkying Horse I think. Another was a two volume leather bound ediyion of Herodotus which apparently he and Elizabeth used to enjoy reading. To start with he lived with Doris and her second husband Alan but at that time they were living somewhere in the depths of darkest Norfolk and Bruce found life oppresively quiet or uneventful. An opportunity arose for him to move into 'sheltered' accommodation for the elderly but not ill in a village called blewbury near Easty Hagbourne where Dick Linklater lived which is where I got to know him.

He spoke often of ‘going to paint’ but never got round to it again. I think with Elizabeth's death his zest for enjoyment and life was much diminished. Latterly he was troubled with his eyesight failing and pain in his legs. He never made any effort to encourage new friendships or to socialize other than with immediate family. And there were approaches made to him by others living where he wasin Blewbury and later at the residential home but such moves were for some reason always rebuffed. He was a great one for a snifter and a professional smoker. However, summoning the enthusiasm to feed himself properly was evidently beyond him and eventuially he lost strength to such an extent that he would jhave died had he not been whipped into a local residential home where they fed hoim up and he recovered and continued for another 3 or maybe 5 years.

His memory and faculties remained extremely sharp right to the end. I was at East Hagbourne shortly before his death and rang to ask would it be ok to call and see him that evening and he said “yes, but not for too long!” There was always plenty of drink around, although latterly he suddenly stopped smoking. I had a slug of whisky as was usual, and we chatted about this and that for half an hour or so and I left. He died the next morning. This was apparently entirely expected by the staff, but I marvelled at how much he was his usual self, albeit somewhat subdued!