Sketch by Jack Chalker

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I arrived in Leeds and was met first by the military police checking my pass but more so my mixed dress which was now part English issue and part US. Now came the big question where was I to go? I had received no correspondence from home for four years, did it even still exist or had the War taken its toll? I got a taxi to 14 Hollyshaw Lane, Whitkirk. I asked the driver to wait for moment while I went to the door, nobody was home but no but no mistake this was still home.

Now there was so much information to catch up on. All three of my brothers were still serving and awaiting discharge. My oldest brother Bob was still within the RAF in India, my younger brother Arthur had married prior to going abroad to Burma and the youngest brother Frank had joined the Merchant Navy, it was quite some time still before he came home as he had decided to stay at sea. My sister, Emmie, stayed at home working at Blackburn’s Olympia Works on Roundhay Road in Leeds making aircraft parts, which now has a Tesco Supermarket on its site.

Robert Blackburn founded Blackburn Aircraft and built his first aircraft in Leeds in 1908 and formed the Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Company in 1914 and changed its name to Blackburn Aircraft Limited in 1939. During the War Blackburn’s were making parts at the factory for the Swordfish plane which was being built at Sherburn in Elmet. The plane featured in many important missions during World War II. Protecting many convoys and in one raid causing significant damage to the German warship, the Bismarck, rendering its steering inoperable. There are now only two Swordfish aircrafts left in existence, they are kept at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Royal Naval Air Station in Yeovilton, Somerset.

While Emmie was working at Blackburn’s she made friends with Irene Burrows, who became Eileen Walton my Wife for over 60 years.

And so my story ends, quite a few years have passed and a lot of varied events. I was one of the lucky ones having survived starvation, malnutrition, sickness and harsh treatment. Over my time away as a POW I lost around three stone in weight but gradually regained this by being allowed double rations for the first month I was home.

I found work after the War, in Leeds Market, Irene and I had two children, girls, Sandra and Carole. Now it's 2014 and I'm still here just having passed my 95th Birthday, to record those events of my Military years and remember those lads who were not so lucky.

Harry Walton Sgt - FEPOW

 

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