Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Story That Got Away

I received the following e- mail the other day in response to an article I posted some years ago regarding the Civilian War Dead of Pitsmoor, (Sheffield). I have now obtained Alan's permission to publish it and add it to the web-site. It is a story that you can't really add to 


Hi, my name is Alan Simpson,also born 1953,also went to Abbeydale Grammar School. Whilst browsing your site I found a link to the Pitsmoor Roll of Honour to those who perished in the Sheffield blitz.
My father was Arthur Simpson,rear gunner in a Halifax bomber during the war. On the night of the 13th December 1940 he lost his mother,Mary Simpson,youngest sister Margaret Simpson,together with his niece Patricia Hutchinson(8),nephew Barrie Hutchinson (5mths),eldest sister Doris Heeley, brother in law Percy Heeley and niece Barbera Heeley (10). His eldest sister Mary Hutchinson survived the blast on Bressingham Rd,even though her son Barrie was being nursed on her lap at the time.
Mary,or Nellie as she preferred had a daughter later in life which she named Barbera. Barbera had a successful life as a ballet dancer in the Saddlers Wells ballet company and to this day teaches worldwide. Nellie died last year (2010) at the ripe age of 101 having received a letter from H.R.H.
Some six months after loosing virtually his entire family,my father was shot down over France and parachuted out of a burning Halifax bomber to be captured and spent the next 3 years in a prisoner of war camp in various places,finally in Poland. On the forced march into Germany,the much reported "Death Marches", he and his Canadian friend escaped into the forest and finally after many days hiding and running,met up with an American patrol. He was awarded the "Caterpillar Tie" and membership of the "Caterpillar Club",an exclusive club for airmen shot down and parachuting to earth.
Sadly like his father,Arthur died at an early age but not without leaving a wife,Gladys who is still with us at 89 years old. Happily they had four children. Myself Alan,my brother John and sisters Anita and Joanne. Many more grandchildren and great grandchildren have sadly missed the company of my Father whom I regard as a true hero.
Dad rarely spoke of the war. He did mention being in a camp in Poland,close to Auschwitz and being able to smell the funeral pyres as bodies were burned in the open as the Russian and American soldiers advanced.
He was a loyal family man,proud and with strict morals,loved and missed by all. His ashes lay in a Crematorium in Carleton near Blackpool where we lived after leaving Totley in 1966. I hope this story is of interest to you and others.

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