A further 25 people with a connection to Darwen had lost their lives during 1942 as a direct result of the war. Some of those deaths occurred in accidental circumstances which makes it even more tragic. Russia would win the battle for Stalingrad and Darwen men were in the convoys taking supplies to help the Russians. Darwen continued to send troops to North Africa where Germany was finally forced to surrender in Tunisia. Those troops would then be asked to move on to other targets including Sicily and then onwards to Italy. A second force was gathering further East in India and Burma and many Darwen men would end up in that theatre of war. In December another piece of revenge for a Darwen man lost in 1940 with the loss of HMS Glorious – an aircraft carrier involved in the controversial sinking after rescuing troops and equipment from Norway. Claude Sanderson had been Stoker First Class on the ill-fated Glorious when she was sunk by the Scharnhorst, but in December 1943 Roy Nightingale from Darwen would win the DSO for his part on HMS Sheffield in sinking the Scharnhorst.
***You can click on each image to enlarge it***
Thomas Joseph Henry was the first Darwen man to lose his life in 1943 in an aircraft of the RAF which crashed into a field in Sibsey
Robert Gregson had joined the Fleet Air Arm in 1942 and was completing his training during 1943 before being posted to Ceylon.
His record shows that he completed his examinations for LAM (E), Leading Air Mechanic, in December 1943.
Name of ship can be misleading on his record form because these are Land Bases used by the Fleet Air Arm. Waxwing and Landrail were in Scotland.
Communication with loved ones was a two way process like this one from Mrs Harwood to her husband in Kenya in April 1943.
Everyone knows about the Darwen Spitfire, but we raised money every year for the War Effort and 1943 was to support the RAF again.
The Mayor’s Message set out the ambitious target of £250,000 for 12 Mosquitos and 2 Spitfires.
Besides the Exhibitions and other indoor events they had a grand procession through the town – here the ARP pose on the steps of the baths.
Two separate processions – one for the Young People’s Day and the other for the Official Opening.
All sorts of activities took place that week to raise funds for the RAF.
Savings Committees did their bit to contribute reminding people that this was different to donating.
Allan Shorrock, meanwhile, was in the Merchant Navy on convoys bringing much needed supplies to Britain.
This identification card issued by his employers Furness Withy gave him access to Mariners Rest Centres in New York.
Mariners were provided with this leaflet giving them directions to the Rest Centres and a menu of what they offered.
Allan would go on to sail the Arctic convoys to Archangel to supply the Russians. The Arctic Star was only made available in 2012.
Hollins Mill continued in earnest like other Darwen Mills to produce materials for the war effort including Bombs.
Despite all this weddings continued in Darwen, and Doris got her white dress by pooling the clothing coupons of all her friends.
James Albert Ormerod had joined the RAF in 1942 and was coming to the end of his training in 1943.
Despite knowing what he faced James took the opportunity to marry in 1943 before he had taken his first flight in anger.
Horace Toolis had joined the Royal Navy but sailed on Defence Equipped Merchant Ships carrying heavy guns and aircraft to launch at sea.
They were told that if captured they must ditch all their Royal Navy gear over the side or they would be shot as spies.
Following North Africa Private William Taziker would be amongst those who entered Italy amidst heavy fighting with elite German Forces.
Sadly, William would be another Darwen casualty to find a resting place on foreign soil.
His final resting place with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is at Salerno Military Cemetery.
Eric Harwood was in the Royal Navy Patrol Service on Motor Fishing Vessels, HMS MFV12in 1943 minesweeping.
When in Malta he was taken ill and had to be replaced on the boat. Lucky for him as the boat he should have been on was hit and sunk.
A similar fate awaited Fred Jackson who from November 1943 was on Merchant ships in convoys across the Atlantic.
He was awarded leave when his mother was taken seriously ill and his ship sailed without him. Fred’s ship was hit and he lost a lot of friends.
Many Darwen men can proudly wear the Atlantic Star for their part in taking convoys across the Atlantic Ocean.
Hubert Bentley who had been out in Africa for more than a year now was still there at the end of 1943.
In December 1943 Roy Nightingale earned the DSO for his part in the sinking of the Scharnhorst off Scapa Flow.
The services had got their act together by then and produced their own Christmas Cards.
Someone very artistic produced this one with the two mirrored views.
The troops themselves were very creative with their Christmas messages as well by 1943, having had plenty of practice