VE Day: Special salute for veteran Eric

A SPECIAL salute to a Greenfield man who served in World War II was among the celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on May 8.

Eric Bradshaw, who has lived in Anchor’s Millfield Care Home on Huddersfield Road for nearly five years, was a signalman in the Royal Navy, enlisting aged 18 in 1943.

The 94-year-old served around the world on HMS Implacable during the war and his role was to send and receive messages while his ship was a sea.

To recognise and honour his contribution on the special anniversary, along with other veterans, Shelly Booth, a care assistant at Millfield, put out an appeal, and was overwhelmed by the response.

She explained: “I knew a couple of gentlemen had to isolate but felt we really needed to mark and celebrate VE Day in a memorable way.

“I was really surprised at the response my post received on Facebook. People started to support my cause and I arranged for a number of servicemen and cadets to visit to pay tribute to Eric and all veterans and the fallen.”

The Saddleworth and Lees and District Royal British Legion branches were joined by air cadets from 2200 Oldham Sqn ATC to honour Eric.

They gathered outside the home, where Eric who is in isolation watched through the window while family, friends and well-wishers enjoyed the occasion outside.

They saluted and applauded, there was a salute on horseback, Mark Marsh played the Last Post, there was a two-minute silence then the Reveille, with Major Eddy Hardaker giving the traditional salute, before everyone joined in a rousing rendition of ‘We’ll Meet Again’.

Lisa Owens, Home Manager, said: “I am really proud of Shelly for organising this and feel it’s a fitting tribute to the veterans, particularly in this time where they are unable to attend events themselves, but ensuring they are still a part of this occasion.”

Eric was born on July 5, 1925 in Oldham. He trained with the Royal Navy in Plymouth and on the Isle of Man before becoming Signalman 1st Class on HMS Implacable.

He has many interesting stories from his time in the navy, including when his ship was involved in the sinking of the German battleship Tirpitz off Norway in the Battle of the Atlantic in November 1943.

They arrived in Sydney the day after VE Day May 9, 1944 and were treated like heroes, even though the war was not quite over.

The HMS Implacable was later based off the coast of Japan and Eric was on duty when atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

After that, Eric was involved in repatriating prisoners of war from the Japanese camps and was finally demobbed in September 1946.

He returned to working in the office at the Olive Mill in Oldham and worked in the cotton industry as a salesman into his seventies.

A very keen sportsman, he is a life-long supporter of Oldham rugby league and Oldham Athletic. He was secretary of Greenfield Cricket Club and is still a keen follower.

He was involved in amateur operatics for many years, taking many leading parts especially in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas where he met his wife Mary, who was a local musician (establishing Saddleworth Singers ladies’ choir) and teacher. Eric was also a member of Saddleworth Musical Society for many years.

Eric and Mary were married on September 3, 1955. They spent most of their married life in Greenfield, where Eric remained until he moved to Millfield. Mary sadly passed away in 2002.

Eric has a 90-year-old brother Les, two daughters Christine and Ruth, son-in-laws Gordon and Chris, granddaughter Catherine plus step-granddaughter Hannah who are “all very proud of him”.

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