A personal memory of life in wartime Melton

Joseph Main, from Nether Broughton, who was killed while fighting in the First World War on November 7, 1918 EMN-150120-151617001

Joseph Main, from Nether Broughton, who was killed while fighting in the First World War on November 7, 1918 EMN-150120-151617001

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A flavour of what Melton went through during the Second World War has been revealed by a former resident who was a child during the 1940s.

Ann Hawkins, who is now 80, got in touch with the Melton Times to pledge support for our appeal to enhance the town’s war memorial to fallen service personnel with photographs and details on new interpretation boards in the gardens of Egerton Lodge.

Mrs Hawkins recalled the day a neighbour found out her son had been killed in action.

She was Beatrice Palmer, who lived at 2 Welby Lane and whose son Frederick had been serving with the Durham Light Infantry.

He was involved in fierce fighting in northern France in the aftermath of the D-Day Landings as allied forces gradually pushed back the Germans.

Frederick was killed on August 13, 1944, and is now buried at the Tilly-Sur-Seulles War Cemetery.

Mrs Hawkins, whose family lived next door to the Palmers at number four, said: “Fred and his sister Eva both served in the Army and I used to see them coming home in their uniforms.

“Then one day his mother came up our garden path to tell my mother that her son had been killed in the war. She was very upset as you can imagine.

“I also remember a former school teacher of mine at the junior school in Asfordby Road, which is now Grove School. Her fiancee had been killed in the First World War and she always had a sad look on her face all those years later.

“I think it is important we remember these men who gave their lives and the new war memorial will be a really good way of doing it.”

Some servicemen who lost their lives in conflicts were particularly unlucky. One of them was Joseph Main, who fought throughout almost all of the First World War on the battlefields of France and Flanders, in Belgium, after enlisting at Melton.

Just four days before the Armistice signalled the end of the war, Private Main, who was 28, was killed in France. He was mourned by wife Emily, at their home at New Inn Cottage, Kinoulton, and parents Joseph and Fanny, of Nether Broughton.

Brian and Jan Ward, who are relatives of Joseph, have been to his grave at the Dourlers Communal Cemetery Extension in northern France.

Mr Ward said: “I think it is marvellous what they are doing at the war memorial to commemorate the service of men like Joseph.”

l If you have a relative you think should be recorded on Melton’s war memorial please email nick.rennie@jpress.co.uk or telephone 01664 412523.

l If you have a photograph and details of a family member killed in the world wars or in other conflicts then we would like to hear from you. Contact us on the email address or telephone number above or you can call in at our Nottingham Street office - please ring the bell to alert us.

l You can make a donation to the appeal at the Melton Mowbray Building Society in Nottingham Street - account number is GGX3326893MEL and cheques should be made payable to Melton Mowbray Town Estate (War Memorial) appeal.