Posts Tagged ‘both’

Elderly neighbours discover they both took part in the same WW2 mission

December 9th, 2015

George Rhodes, 99, and Graham Brown, 93, live in the same block of flats, but have only just found out one inadvertently helped the other during an Allied mission.

Before Mr Rhodes and his fellow Army soldiers entered a railway yard, the Royal Air Force were called to drop bombs on the city to clear their way.

One of the pilots who dropped the bombs was Mr Brown – making sure Mr Rhodes and his men could get through. Both men ended up living next door to each other in Wells, Somerset.

George Rhodes in the army

Mr Rhodes said: “Graham and his boys did a good job. The place was ruined. All the rails had been bombed so much that they were all curled up.

“No train was going to run on those again and the bombs meant that we could enter.”

An army sergeant, Mr Rhodes signed up during his university days in 1942 – where he was sent to the Middle East, north Africa and Italy before the bombing raids in Europe.

While Mr Brown was the pilot of a Wellington bomber. Graz was liberated in 1945 and the two returned to normal lives after the war.

Mr Rhodes became a mortician in the pathology department of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, married Ruby and had one son.

Mr Brown returned to Bristol University and completed his engineering degree started at the beginning of the war and then became the manager of Underwood Quarry in Wells.

After finding out that their jobs in the war were dependent on each, the two are best of friends and share an apartment building together.

Mr Rhodes added: “Graham is a great bloke and we talk about the war, thank heavens he and his aircrew were around to support us at that time.”

Soldier reunited with wallet lost in Austria 70 years ago
War veteran reunited with dog tag after 69 years


World War Two

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Second World War camp survivor and wife both die on 76th wedding anniversary

August 13th, 2014

The couple, who fell in love at first sight, met in Cardiff and married on August 5, 1938, three years before Mr Hartland was posted as a gunner to Singapore following the outbreak of war.

His regiment of 700 men surrendered to the Japanese the following year and Mr Hartland, like thousands of others, was tortured, starved and worked to the brink of death by his captors.

An estimated 13,000 people died building the railway, most of them buried near to where they fell along the unforgiving 250-mile route stretching to the Thailand border.

Mr Hartland, who was 11-stone when he left for Singapore, survived to the end of the war, by which time he weighed five stone and bore a scar on his leg – the mark of a poisoned bamboo shoot pushed through his leg by a camp guard who had caught him smoking banana leaves.

Having survived 15 different camps and been forced to dig his own grave, Mr Hartland was welcomed home to Cardiff in 1945 with a street party and a letter of thanks from King George.

Mrs Pearson said: “I don’t know how dad survived, mainly luck and determination, I think. There were 700 men in his regiment when they went out, but only four ever came back. Dad was the last to die from his regiment.

“In 1942, Mum got a letter from the colonel of the Coast Regiment saying Dad was missing, presumed dead. She had the papers to claim a widow’s pension.

“She absolutely refused to believe it. At the time, she was conscripted to work in a parachute factory in Cardiff Bay. She hated it: it was dirty and rat infested.

“But every day, on her way to work, mum would go into the church she passed and pray that dad would come home. She lived without him for four years, but she never believed he was dead.”

Last year, Mr Hartland said: “The worst thing was when we had to dig our own graves. We were due to be shot on the day the war ended.

“Then the ‘all-clear’ sounded. You can guess how I felt.”

Mrs Pearson, the couple’s daughter, was born in 1946 and the family moved to Wyken, Coventry in 1947, and Mr Hartland worked for Morris Engines as a factory foreman until he retired.

She said: “Dad was in hospital for a while after he came back from Burma, but neither of them cared. They were just so happy to be together again.

“They had an incredible marriage. They never, ever argued. Dad idolised Mum, and she adored him.

Mr Hartland died at Saint Martin’s Rest Home in Woodway Lane, Coventry, last week, hours after his wife was discharged from hospital with a broken leg.

Mrs Pearson, a mother of two, said: “We think he was waiting for her to come back to the room they shared before he died.

“Afterwards, Mum just kept saying, ‘I can’t live without him’. That night, Mum rang me.

“She was upset and I told her to think about all the happy times they’d shared in their marriage while she drifted off to sleep.

“She died at 1am, and I like to think that’s exactly what she was doing.

“It’s a perfect love story. I’m devastated they’re gone but so happy for them – they’ve never really had to live without one another.

“The undertaker said he had never seen anything like it, when he came to collect Mum. Paramedics said she died of a heart attack, literally of a broken heart.”

A joint funeral has been arranged for the pair, which will take place in Coventry on Tuesday.


World War Two

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