Village Web Site Forum

Denis Pickles
Monday, February 11, 2008 20:03
Thomas Edward Bell
This weekend I had a visit from Tom Bell, a Lincolnshire Senior Policeman, son of Thomas E Bell, nephew of John Stanley Bell and grandson of William Bell our erstwhile village bobby. As a result of our meeting, some photographs of the Bell family, and a newspaper cutting will shortly appear in the gallery. [I trust!] I did intend to post another cutting, which is possibly from the Keighley News, dated 10 October 1942, but the quality of the scan renders it largely indecipherable so I'm going to type it out. I think it will be of interest to many who read these columns.

In Malta Convoy.
Experiences of Two Sutton Men.

Two Sutton Men, Thomas E Bell and Frank Hardacre, who have been home on leave, have had interesting stories to tell of their experiences. Since March last they have travelled over 25000 miles. In a mid-summer crossing of the line they formed part of an escort to a convoy to Cape Town. On the same warship as the two Suttonites was a Keighley youth formerly with the West Yorkshire Road Car Co. Returning northwardsthey were one of the escort ships on the famous convoy to Malta. During the fiercest part of the attack by the enemy, Mr Bell states that many of the crew were below deck for 48 hours and he himself during one 48 hours only saw daylight for one hour. When the battle was at its height it was chiefly anti aircraft guns which were fiercely engaged. Their ship was not hit but there were 'near misses' and some of the bombs and the depth charges dropped by our ships fairly shook their vessel and they felt these shocks very much below.
Ultimately their ship turned round and steamed for Gibralter. During the battle the Eagle was torpedoed and Frank Hardacre saw the air craft carrier hit and sinking rapidly. He was on deck when the Eagle was struck and immediately ran down for a camera to try and get a photo but when he returned the Eagle had vanished from the scene for ever. It had received four torpedoe hits. Destroyers picked up the survivors of the Eagle. On the return journey westwards their ship called at Gibralter and took on board a large number of survivors of the Eagle. They ultimately discovered that on of the rescued men taken aboard at Gibralter was Fred Throup of Sutton who was serving on the aircraft carrier. Both Mr Bell and Mr Hardacre say one good thing about the war is that it has resulted in them seeing many wonderful places in the world which otherwise they would know merely as names.
In civil life Mr Bell had won his way to the University which he hopes to attend after the war. Mr Hardacre was in the woolsorting department at William Hartley's Sutton.

Lads became men very quickly back then. In July 1941 Tom was still at Keighley Boys' Grammar School - an academic, Head Prefect and a very talented sportsman. He was Captain of the Rugby XV and represented Yorkshire at Under 21 level playing in the position of Hooker. He joined the Navy in September 1941, was commissioned and held the rank of Leiutenant. During his service he was shipwrecked three times. After the war, Tom did get to Cambridge University and eventually taught Languages at Gainsborough Grammar School.

What happened to Frank Hardacre and Fred Throup?
Christine Barrett (nee Hardaker)
Friday, February 22, 2008 11:23
Hello Denis

I am Christine Barrett (nee Hardaker) one of the two daughter’s of Frank Hardaker who was mentioned in the newspaper cutting ‘In Malta Convoy’. My daughter lives in Sutton and looks at the web sight on a regular basis. She was thrilled to read that it was her Grandad that you wanted to trace.

I do remember hearing about the Malta Convoy from my dad but he was very reluctant to talk about it. I never realised that it made the local paper, such interesting reading. The Ship that they were on was HMS Nelson. I remember him talking about Tom Bell but I do not remember Fred Throup. I realise now how lucky he was to survive the near misses and how brave all the service men were.

Dad finished at William Hartley’s in 1958 to take over ‘Hardaker’s’ Confectioners in Crosshills. He had to take early retirement due to health problems. Both Mum (Kathleen Hardaker) and Dad lived in Crosshills until sadly he died in 1999 at the age of 79.
Denis Pickles
Friday, February 22, 2008 23:07
So pleased to read your message Christine. I was beginning to think that the Bells and the Hardacres had all been forgotten, but I was wrong. In Tom Bells photo album there is a photograph of HMS Nelson and I assumed that Tom had been on that ship at some time or other, but I think he spent most of his service on smaller vessels.
When I was at school during the war, there used to be a family of Hardacres living in a house in the Old Dyke near the Black Bull - eventually the public conveniences were built in the garden. Is that where your dad lived? No - the house, not the toilets!
I no longer lived in Sutton when your dad took over the shop in Crosshills. To all intents and purposes, I left when I joined the army in 1955. Where was the shop? Can you remember who had it before it became 'Hardacres'? The only name I can remember was 'Rollinsons?'
Perhaps someone will evenually recall what happened to Fred Throup.
David Laycock
Saturday, February 23, 2008 12:06
It was with some interest reading Denis's reply. I remember your Dad in the shop also his brother would have been Arthur? who lived across from us in Low Fold and your sister Jean married my cousin John Conyers?

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