It is with a very heavy heart I write this letter. My brother Frank died today on March19th after bravely fighting cancer for nearly two years and believe me he never complained once.
Frank was born in 1936 and like me was brought up in a working class environment, of which he never forgot. He had a happy childhood throughout the war years and left school when he reached his fifteenth birthday.
Frank did not have a trade and worked in the Cooperative Grocers in Barrow until his call up at the age of 18 for national service in 1955. When Frank was a young boy he had to have an iron on his right leg to straighten it up, but like other things those years it failed and he was left with a limp.
He never tried to duck his way out of the call up and it baffles me how he was given grade 3, which would not happen in this present day. Frank was called up to do his national service with the Royal Army Medical Corps at Crookham Barracks, Fleet near Aldershot in April 1955
Frank was also left handed, so one can imagine with the limp and being left handed he must have taken a lot of stick. With Frank it was water off a ducks back, because he could take whatever was thrown at him. When his training was over and incidentally they kept him off the passing out parade, because of his limp etc. He had a choice of going to Epping Forest or Egypt. Frank chose Egypt, because he would get three weeks embarkation leave.
He went to a camp in Fayid near the Suez Canal has a Nursing Orderly. He was there three months before sent onto Cyprus. The Cyprus we know now is a great holiday destination but not then. The Greek Cypriots wanted self-rule and they went about it in murdering British Servicemen in order to try and get it.
Frank served at camps in Limassol, Four mile point Famagusta and Nicosia. He had a few narrow escapes along the way. Quite a number of British Soldiers were badly burned while on patrol against the EOKA. When this happened Frank was sent as an orderly to the Military Hospital in Nicosia. What he had to do with the lads who were badly burned affected him all his life. He wrote about this in his other short stories on my Blog
Frank was demobbed in 1957at the age of 20 and put his army life behind him. He later met June Gordon who he courted and married and they had two Children Gail and Neil. Just like himself he gave them a happy childhood. Eventually they married and he became a proud grandfather of three boys, James, Nick and Jack. Not forgetting his son and Daughter in laws John and Jevonia.
I could go on for evermore, to me he was the best brother and friend one could wish to have. Believe me readers; there is one thing I am certain about. I am going to miss my big brother Frank terribly, for the rest of my life.
While writing my other short story I forgot to mention this other episode
I am not a great believer in fate but a strange episode certainly happened to me that was indeed a chance in a thousand of happening-
I was selected for an advance party to prepare our new camp at four mile point Famagusta. Shortly after arrival, we were allowed to visit a NAFFI . I was sitting with four other comrades drinking a well-earned refreshment, when an announcement on a radio gave out a request for me.
It was on a Cyprus forces request programme. My mother had sent a request for a record for me and had not told me about the request; I did not know at that moment where I would be. Further more I had not listened to a radio in 3 months. or had been informed of the request. The record was Hernando`s Hideaway. I heard it, and what odds of the chance of me doing so. Fate certainly played its part.
It was about this time I was called upon to travel to Nicosia hospital. A major exercise had taken place in the Troodos mountains to flush out the EOKA and their leader General Grivas. Unfortunately, a fire was started and the flames turned upon the British troops. There were casualties deaths and serious burns. Two badly burned soldiers were near to dying and my duty was to stay with them and do what I could. The parents of the two unfortunates were flown into Cyprus and were at at their bedsides. I remembered distinctly and will never forget having to turn one of the soldiers over to place some gauze under his buttocks to allow him to pass motion. The hot sticky substance and the pain that came from his back. Has been a living memory and has remained with me ever since. The two lads died that night and because of the injuries they had received. I am sorry to say it was probably a blessing in disguise. It was a sad time believe me.
On a brighter note the cook sergeants had changed duties. The famous Squeegy had taken over and turned his predecessor out of the kitchen.
To give him a job while he waited a plane to back to England and demob. They put the replaced sergeant in charge of a working party doing general duties. He was not very bright and he asked me. “What do you do in civy street?”
“I work in a chocolate factory. ” I lied in reply.
“What kind of work is that then? He asked.
Well do you know those strawberry whirls that are found on chocolates? I put the little twirl on top of them ” I lied again.
“What, I could do that ” He said laughingly looking assured of his future.
” Yes you could but if you miss one, you have to run half way down the assembly belt to put your twirl on it” I replied with a deadpan face.
He looked puzzled, but repeated he could do that. He left for dear old Blighty some days later and he had assured himself he could do one job at least
Good luck to you all
Stories and Letters
Alan E Parkinson.
Paul Maxwell. Brian Owen.
R.C.Heape. B Sutton.
Duncan Hamman. Mike Hargreaves.
Ken Bradshaw. Alan Booth.
Frank Parkinson 2. Arnold Jordan.
Ron Green. Jeff Sherwin. Gorge Andrews. Tony Rogers.
Brian Phillips. Ted (Wacker) Morris. Laurie Avison. Les Sexton
Peter Tucker. Jim Thomas. John Giles.
Les Singfield. Michael Robinson. John Kelly.