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A Family That Lived Through the War

by cambslibs

Contributed by 
People in story: 
John Sykes, Percy Sykes(1887-1934),Henrietta Sykes (1893-1975), Bernard Ismay Sykes (1914-1961), Reginald Lund Sykes, Rowland Sykes (1928-2000), Malcom Sykes, Margaret Patricia Sykes
Location of story: 
Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
09 June 2004

In 1934 my father died of meningitis.Although this was terrible it actually assisted the family through the depression years because as orphans we were entitled to grants. At the outbreak of war my brother Reginald had a university scholarship and he had attended Durham University for one year. Then in 1941 he went to America to train for flying. He completed his training in Canada by 1942. In 1943 he was posted to Eastern India, There he flew Halifaxs and Dakotas over the Chinese Hump. He stayed there until 1946 and in that year and in 1945 he flew rescued British prisoners of war to ports in Northern India for transport back to Britain. Reginald came home in 1947 but he stayed in the Airforce until he retired 1988. Bernard my eldest brother was a Centre Lathe Operator who started with Jeffrey Diamond, manufacturers of coal mining machinery and the he was transferred in 1943 to Thorp Marsh at Wetherby a big Munitions Depot.Roland went into agriculture in 1943 at the age of 14 and did his National Service in 1948 spending time in Egypt and Greece. Malcom the youngest spent the war in school, Ossett Grammar Scool.My sister Margaret passed her Eleven Plus Scolarship at the age of ten and attended Thornes House Grammar School in Wakefied. She left school later to become a teacher.We knew that she was the genius of the family. My mother went to work in 1934, after she was widowed, spending the next years and the war years working full-time as School Caretaker and organising school meals. Meanwhile I left Wakefield Grammar School in 1941 and became apprentice Electrical Engineer with Terry Greaves and Co Old Roundwood Collieries Osset. We worked everyday with no time off the 363 days a year. I also continued with training at Wakefield and Leeds Technical colleges. I had 6 days off in 1942, 1943 and 1944. I received my Higher National Certificate in 1945. I did fire watching as I was in a reserved occupation but I didn't join the Home Guard. We all stayed at home, except for Bernard who got married, where our mother looked after us.
I was part of the Youth Fellowship at Church and we had a cricket team - St. Georges Lupset. On D-Day plus one we had a match and we played against Fanshaw we won a twenty over knock-out. Unfortunately at sometime in the evening I received a nasty insect bite to the neck. About three weeks later this had developed into an infection resulting in a severe bout of pleurisy.I was given a new drug M&B but my mum and the doctors were unaware of some of the side effects which were worsened by a diet of eggs and milk. To this day I am allergic to eggs.I passed out n the 17 July and hospitalised. The next thing I knew about the war, after the not so good news for the first week or so after D-day, I heard that there was much more success with the Americans breaking out of Cherbourg into Normandy and Montgomery entering Paris.

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