Wars take terrible toll on family
AGRANDMOTHER has revealed her family’s tragic connection to both world wars.
Dorothy ‘Midge’ Barber’s grandfather, Harry Adkinson, was killed in the First World War in 1915, while her father, also called Harry, died in a freak accident during the Second World War in 1945.
In a tragic coincidence both Dorothy and her father Harry junior were robbed of ever knowing their respective fathers.
Dorothy has spent her whole life coming to terms with the fact Harry died only five weeks after she was born.
The grandmother of four said: “My dad was in the Navy and was serving on a warship called the White Bear. He had been on shore leave and was returning to the ship in a small boat when it struck its main anchor and capsized. My dad and four other men became trapped beneath a jetty and drowned. He died on Friday, April 13. It was an awful thing to happen so close to the end of the war.” In the years after the tragedy Harry’s widow, Edith, struggled alone to raise Midge and her older brother, Ken, working for 45 years at a fabric shop.
Midge, of Weavers Court, Macclesfield, said: “Every year my family would visit the cenotaph to remember my dad. It wasn’t until I was about seven when I made the link.
“It was really upsetting that I lost my dad before I got the chance to meet him.”
Although Midge was only given a few facts about her father’s life, such as a his work as a labourer for the Corporation and his love of darts at his local pub, The Union, Midge has learned more in recent years reading the letters Harry sent Edith from sea, and after meeting two of Harry’s friends on board the White Bear.
She said: “In one of his last letters dad expresses his delight after learning he had a daughter.
“He loved the thought of having a little girl. That made me happy and gave me some comfort.
“Amazingly about 10 years ago two of his friends, one from America and another from Mansfield, tracked me down. They said they wanted to meet the daughter Harry never met and share their stories of him. That was an amazing moment.”
Midge wanted to share her story after seeing the Express appeal for information on local heroes from the First World War.
Her grandfather, Harry senior, served the 5th Bn