Friday, 14 October 2011

News - Veterans sound final Last Post (Sheffield)

A WORLD War Two veterans’ association has sounded its final last post - after its numbers dwindled to just a handful of members left.

For more than three decades the Coastal Forces Veterans’ Association has held monthly meetings in Sheffield and Rotherham to keep alive the bonds and camaraderie that kept servicemen going through the war.

At its peak the group - who from 1939 to 1945 patrolled Britain’s coastline in motor torpedo boats, keeping Hitler’s forces at bay - numbered more than 200 veterans in South Yorkshire.

But now there are only eight of the naval heroes left - old men now in their 80s and 90s.

The group marked their last ever meeting, at the Outokumpu Social Club in Tinsley, surrounded by friends and family, with a meal, a sing-song - and their habitual tot of rum.

The club’s longest-serving member, Syd Farrow, aged 87, said: “Unfortunately we are a shrinking group.

“We started in Wickersley in 1979 at The Companions Club, and we moved here when that building was turned into flats.”

Syd, who lives in Chesterfield where he was born, joined the war effort when he was 17.

“I really enjoyed those years,” he said.

“We had some hair-raising experiences, but we made wonderful friends.”

Ted O’Brien, aged 88, from Parson Cross in Sheffield, said: “When I came back from the war I didn’t want to think about the experience at all.

“It was only later, when I was retired, that my mind really wandered back to it.

“It has been good to meet people who had the same experience.”

Group secretary Colin Severn, 64, from Doncaster, whose father Ernest served in the coastal forces, took over the running of the club to help out the veterans. He said: “It’s heartbreaking that the group is closing.

“But people are getting older, it’s getting harder for people to get here, and the building is being sold, so it’s probably the right time.”

Hilda Anderson, 84, from Rawmarsh, Rotherham, had continued to attend the meetings since her naval veteran husband Arthur died.

Hilda said: “We meet once a month to chat about old times and we go on trips.

“We always open the meeting with a tot of rum - they say that’s what keeps the Navy going.

“I will really miss it.”

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