Armistice is doubly special for Harold

Jean and Harold Askey
Jean and Harold Askey

A born-and-bred Hucknall man who served in World War Two celebrates his 100th birthday on Sunday – having been born on the original Armistice Day.

And last month Harold Askey also marked 59 years of marriage to his wife Jean, aged 90.

Harold was the youngest in his family, and was 10 years younger than his brother, who died at the age of 20 after contracting sepsis down the pits.

Consequently Harold’s mother wanted him to do something else, so he had a variety of jobs, including a short-lived carpentry apprenticeship with a coffin-maker.

And his picture has been in your Dispatch once before - when he was arrested for loitering on the High Street with his motorcycle.

He was called up the day he turned 21, and served in the Royal Engineers, building bridges. He was present at the Sicily landings, and witnessed Mount Etna erupting.

Harold was not a gifted marksman and his sergeant major once said: “If I was a German, and Harold was shooting, I would stand right in front of him.”

He rarely speaks about the War, but when he does, it is always a fascinating story.

Last year on a trip to Stonehenge, he spotted a road sign for a place where he had been military policeman, and said he felt sorry for the soldiers he escorted to prison.

After the war he had the option to be demobbed to Australia, but chose to return to Hucknall, where he met Jean.

They married at St Mary Magdalene Church, in 1959, after he gave her the choice of buying a car, or getting married. They never got a car.

Harold and Jean moved from Ethel Avenue to be closer to their only son Andrew, and his wife CJ, in Basingstoke.

n Lest We Forget – Pages 4-5