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Birchwood woman shares remarkable story of her parents war service
2:00pm Friday 14th March 2014 in News
THE daughter of a soldier, who was a Far Eastern prisoner of war, has recently discovered a memorial in honour of those who lost their lives or suffered during World War Two.
But Pat Rankin, from Birchwood, was saddened to find that there were only 52 people from the north west who had signed up to the charity.
Children of Far Eastern Prisoners of War is a charity dedicated to keeping alive the stories of years of suffering endured by servicemen while held hostage during World War Two.
As a tribute to those who fought for their country, the National Memorial Arboretum was built in Staffordshire to inform future generations of their sacrifices, suffering and bravery.
The 66-year-old said: “It was only by chance that I found about the COFEPOW through a friend. There could be thousands of people out there who are not even aware that something like this even exists.”
Pat’s father, Bill Harrison, who was born in Chester but later moved to Orford, was a rear gunner in the bomber command in the RAF after signing up in 1939, aged 22.
On average, the life span of a serviceman in the RAF was five missions but Bill completed 38 before he was captured when his plane was shot down over Java in January 1942.
Her mum Jessie received a letter informing her that her husband had been shot down and was presumed dead but she always believed he was still alive.
“She just knew in her heart that he wasn’t. Mum had a sixth sense like that,” said Pat.
Bill returned to England in 1945, weighing only six stone but with a heavy heart for the cruelties he had witnessed.
“My dad, despite everything he went through, always said he was lucky because he got to come home. He never felt sorry for himself.
“But there are so many people who didn’t come home. I just want to raise awareness so other people know that the arboretum is there so they can find out more information or pay their respects.”
Through signing up to COFEPOW, Pat has been able to find out more information about her father’s capture and urges other people to do the same.
For more information cofepow.org.uk or to speak to Pat email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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