“I’m Sure I Had A Girl”

25 April 2013

Today in Australia is ANZAC Day and often I’ve talked here about things “military” (my father was in the army, my mother the air force)

But I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my birth, which took place in a military hospital in the UK.

Two babies were born there that day – me and the grandchild of a famous British Field Marshal (for those outside the UK, Field Marshal is the highest rank in the British Army and there have only been about 140 of them).  At that time, it was common to take babies away from their mothers, bringing them back just for feeds and changes.  My mother was given the wrong baby and happily fed it.  And when I say “it” I actually mean “him”!  Yes, my mother presumably cood over a little baby boy until she realised that there’d been a bit of an error.  My father used to tease me about the little boy they nearly had instead of me.  And I knew his name.

Fast forward to the first Gulf War and I was watching the news on television in London.  The reporter was interviewing British soldiers in the desert and I was transfixed by the name that appeared under the Major she was talking to.  It was the baby who nearly made his way into my family. 

So I wrote to him, to wish him well and to tell him the story, if he didn’t already know it. And he didn’t.  And he didn’t think his mother was ever told either.  It was definitely him – born in the same hospital on the same day as me.

I’ve often wandered what would have happened if that baby had been a girl.  (Pre-DNA for a start – and today is the 60th Anniversary of the discovery of the double-helix by Watson and Crick incidentally)


  1. Interesting story — and I’m sure his mother was never told!

  2. Such a simple but profound statement. {wry grin} It would be an interesting but probably Pom-Pom-less alternate reality if your mother had not been sure she’d had a girl.

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