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ImageWhen little Gertrude Astbury left her home in the Midlands to come to London, she was on her way to becoming a HUGE Music Hall star.  Hackney mum Dawn Grover tells the Stupendous, the Superb, the Scintillating story of the World War One Forces’ Sweetheart .....
When we moved to Manor Road in Stoke Newington, I was amazed when I got chatting to a neighbour.  She told me that Gertie Gitana, one of the biggest music stars of her day, used to live in our house.  I come from Stoke-on-Trent, exactly the same place Gertie was born: she is a local heroine up there.  I knew she had changed her name from Gertrude Astbury to Gertie Gitana when she had become a child star - and later she had a massive hit with “Nellie Dean”.  

I found out that when Gertie first came to London in 1900 she was only 12, and lived in Tottenham with a manufacturer of hairdressing sundries - and her son-in-law, a comedian.   

When World War One started, Gertie visited the wounded and sang her heart out to keep the spirits up: thousands of people bought her gramophone records (recorded on the Jumbo label).  It was so strange to hear my neighbour’s memories of Gertie, living in our house all those years ago, and driving round Hackney in the little pony and trap she kept here ....”.

If you would like to read more World War One stories have a look at Issue 11
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