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The Service of Five Brothers From Allithwaite

by BBC Cumbria Volunteer Story Gatherers

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Archive List > British Army

Contributed by 
BBC Cumbria Volunteer Story Gatherers
People in story: 
Jack Booker, Ralph Booker, Fred Booker, Roland Booker and Arthur Booker
Location of story: 
Allithwaite, Cumbria, Londonderry,Ghana, Ceylon, El Alamein, Monte Cassino
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
07 November 2005


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Edwina Davies on behalf of Christina Stone (nee Booker) and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions. (Story input to website by Mike Taylor on behalf of Edwina Davies.)

Fred and Mary Booker of Yew Tree Cottages, Allithwaite, now in Cumbria, but in the war still part of Lancashire, had five sons. All saw active service. Jack, the eldest, was killed but their other four sons all served and survived the war.
Christina’s father, their second son, was in the postal service before the war working in Grange-over-Sands Post Office. After the war he was postmaster at Wigton for a number of years. During the war he served in the postal services.
The other brothers in age order were Fred, Roland and Arthur.
Christina recalls her father’s return.
“At the time I was born my father, Ralph Booker, was stationed in Northern Ireland where my mother joined him and it was there I was born in 1941, in Londonderry. My mother and I then returned to England to live at Allithwaite. My father was sent to West Africa and was wounded. A grenade burst near him and shattered an eardrum. Thereafter he was deaf in one ear.
I was too young during the war to recall any of the events but I do remember his homecoming. I was familiar with his photograph in regular uniform but that day I was in the front room and there was a tapping at the window. There was a man there and he was wearing a huge hat. I could not see his face. It was my father. Even now all I see is the hat. It puzzled me until going through some old photographs and amongst them I came across a small snapshot. On the back is written, “37 General Hospital, Accra” and the date, “November, 1944”. Also written are his name, Corporal Booker and three other names: “Bombardier Stuffy (?) Woodgate, Royal Artillery, Sergeant Jones, Royal Artillery, and Staff Sergeant Spendlow, Royal Engineers.”

The other brothers

My Uncle Fred’s wife, Kathleen, and Jack, his son, recall that Fred received no call up papers but that when Rowland was called up and had to report to Barrow to enlist he went with him. The recruiting officer could find no record of Fred’s existence. He would probably not have been called up since he was not listed but he joined up anyway but was not called up, in consequence of his none-existence, until a month after Roland and went not into the army but the navy. During the war he was stationed out in Ceylon.
Uncle Roland, served through the war and was in the desert with the eighth army when they had to retreat in June and July, 1942, and when they won their great victory at El Alamein on 4 November, 1942. He went on with the Eighth to Sicily, then Italy and was at Monte Cassino. Afler the war he was a keen member of the Royal British Legion and hoped to return with the veterans to El Alamein at the fiftieth anniversary but died shortly before.
Uncle Arthur, the youngest brother served in the army. Without his unit and army number we have no means of checking his service record.

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