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Cockermouth Post Article February 2010

Following last month’s article on the wristwatch found in Belgium that belonged to Cockermouth man Norman McMaster, thank you to everyone who responded to the appeal for information. We have received lots of useful information and photographs, both locally and from overseas, which has all been passed on to the Belgian history group who will decide on the watch’s final resting-place. Here I’ll just add a reminder for all you WWII history buffs that the story of Cockermouth’s War Years is now available at the New Bookshop (and other outlets), price £8.99. Norman, of course, was one of many Service personnel who left Cockermouth and sadly never returned. A poem written by J B Richardson of Cockermouth is a moving tribute to Norman:

To Norman

You faced each flight with courage gay, And risks you calmly flaunted, You viewed it all without dismay, With cheerfulness undaunted.

Yet through the hell of fire and flak, And fighter strength unstated, You roamed the deadly dark sky track, And never hesitated.

But now the danger’s cast aside, You’ve joined the mighty band Of lads who bravely fought and died In manner truly grand.

You gave the most that man can give, A sacrifice indeed; You died that England still may live, From War and Terror freed.

The following extract, written by a C S M Smith and taken from the WCT (22.7.44) describes the war-time experiences of other local men:

“Cumberland should be told that among those paratroops who dropped several hours before the sea-borne invasion, the old county was well represented. I was there waiting for them. There was a mere handful of us, and experienced the longest 35 minutes of my life. Blindcrake seemed a long way off at the time. At zero hour the planes disgorged their human load and the air was suddenly filled with sky men. The roar of mighty engines, the thunder of the ack-ack and bursting of our bombs on a nearby target made one think the world had gone mad … In that same parachute battalion were men who had left home as ‘Terriers’ in 1939. Now they were trained and welded into the finest fighting machine in the world. There was Sgt. Bert Norman (Cockermouth), Sgt. Jack Moffat (Embleton), Sgt. U H Price (Cockermouth) … and others who had once been in the Borders. Several days later, dirty, begrimed, but victorious, we smoked and talked. There was Lieut. Jan Cooper of Cockermouth, who, with his platoon had been cut off from his battalion yet had won through to safety and looked after his lads like ‘an old sweat’ … ‘Can’t keep good fellows doon, marra!’ I said …”

Gloria Edwards

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