For this Remembrance Day we thought we would do something different for our window display. Typically, we fill the window with all of our Poppy products, products from the British Legion and the cut outs of the cenotaph.
This year, we thought it would be nice to tell some of the local veteran’s stories to make it feel more relevant to our town.
First of all is the story of Harold Greenhalgh. Harold was my Great Grandad, and Remembrance Sunday was such an important day for him. Every year our family would meet Grandad and we would go down to the war memorial for the service. He would proudly stand in his Royal Engineers’ Jacket with his medals on (which can be seen in our window display). After that we would all go for a drink in one of his favourite pubs. We still carry on this tradition even though he is no longer with us.
During the war he fought in many different places. One of his proudest stories to tell us was that he guarded Mussolini’s body when he had been killed. He was also part of a team that, after landing on Sword Beach on D Day, liberated the town of Caen in France after capturing Pegasus Bridge. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus_Bridge . Whilst on the way to Caen they were followed by a pig for miles and miles, however, food became so short that they ended up having to eat it. After the war he returned back to Stalybridge and went back to work at Range Boilers. He married Annie and they had two children together.
Joining Harold in the window is Leonard Saxon, who was also in the Royal Engineers. Len was sent out to Egypt first of all, it took him six weeks to get there by sea. His first job was to diffuse butterfly bombs amongst other things. After Egypt, Len was posted to Crete where unfortunately he was captured by the Germans and became a Prisoner of War. He was a prisoner for 4 and half years where, if it wasn’t for the British Red Cross and parcels that were sent from home, he believes he would have died. Len returned home to Stalybridge when he was 25, and went back to being a painter and decorator. You can read more about Leonard’s war and prisoner of war story on the BBC archive. https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/22/a7694922.shtml https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/75/a7695075.shtml
Next is James ‘Jimmy’ Hollingworth who lived on the Hague Estate. He volunteered for the RAF where he served as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner in Bomber Command 214 Squadron. During the war, he was part of a squadron that formed a team with the USAAF, their purpose was to carry out countermeasures against the Luftwaffe. Their prime purpose was to divert enemy aircraft using top secret methods that weren’t revealed for many years. Jimmy flew on many missions, and was mentioned in dispatches. He survived his Tour of Duty, where afterwards he was posted to Training Group 10 as an instructor. Unfortunately, whilst on a training flight, he crashed and died of his injuries 2 days after on January 16th 1945 and is laid to rest in St. George’s church.
The final person to be included in this year’s display is Janet Douglas Monro. Janet was part of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), which was the women’s branch of the British Army. She was just 19 when she was called up. During the war, women were barred from battle, however due to shortages of men, members of the ATS took on more active roles. This included radar operations, forming crews and being part of the Military Police. Janet spent the New Year of 1943 firing! According to her diary, she couldn’t tell it was the New Year because of all the gunshots. In
1944, Janet got married to Gavin Scott, and they had four children together. For a while, she stayed as a housewife, however after moving to Manchester in the 60’s, she became an Assistant Librarian on Chorlton Street.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog about the amazing people who lived amongst us. It has been a real pleasure and privilege putting the window display and this blog together. If you get a chance, have a look at the links to delve a little deeper into their stories. Please do have a look at the display next time you’re passing so you can put a face to the name of our local heroes!
We will always remember them.