Heroes of family history

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Alan Hemsworth gave a very interesting talk at the Ribble Valley Family History Society meeting, entitled “Unsung Heroes of the Second World War”.

Alan is a member of “Old Men’s Forum” and was asked to talk about war memories, which led him on to thinking about conversations he had had with war veterans.

Jack, a relation of Alan’s wife, enlisted in 1942 and in 1944, attached to the Australian Air Group. They were on a bombing mission when the crew had to bale out, but Jack’s parachute didn’t open properly and he landed in a tree where he had to spend the night, before being rescued by a French man.

They then had to run from the Germans and the French man was unfortunately killed – Jack was shot in the head, but was taken to hospital. He survived an operation and spent a month recovering, but his memory and speech were affected. He had no identity tag, but Americans eventually helped him get back to England. In 1970, he met up with the nurse who helped him recover and she told his wife what had happened during his captivity.

Whilst visiting Ipswich, Alan visited a bookshop and got talking to the owner, a Colonel who had been in the Coldstream Guards during the war and had had his arm amputated after a shell exploded in a building he was using. The Colonel has written a book entitled “To Fight another Day”.

The group were told many other stories of unsung heroes who had kept their memories to themselves until speaking to Alan.

Please note that there is no January meeting – the next meeting will be on Tuesday, February 9th, 2016, when Sue Holden’s talk will be entitled “Bowland Scrapbook”.

Meetings are held in Clitheroe Cricket Club, Chatburn Road at 7-30 pm and visitors are always welcome.