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War veteran Dennis tells of his pride at his dad’s service
Updated 11:31am Monday 10th March 2014 in News
An Eastburn man has spoken of his pride that his father served in the Great War.
Dennis Maunders, 89, of Sycamore Grove, himself a veteran of World War Two, said his father, Robert Henry Maunders, served in World War One.
Robert, who was born in Selside on February 7, 1891, served in the Yorkshire Regiment.
Although Dennis does not have full details of his father’s service record, he believes his dad began his service at the age of 23, not long after the outbreak of war.
Rising to the rank of sergeant, Robert was stationed in both France and Italy and was wounded twice during the war, sustaining injuries to his neck and leg.
“He was a very good dad,” said Dennis. “The trouble was, my dad, like many others at the time, wouldn’t talk about the war, and you should.
“I didn’t ever think to ask him about it when I was younger. I often wonder why I didn’t.
“It was only when he passed away (on August 27, 1983) that I got all these photos of him.”
In November, Dennis supplied some of those photos of his dad to The Folly museum in Settle for an exhibition.
Robert and his wife, Mary, who was an inspector for the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, had two daughters and four sons, one of whom died as a young child.
The three brothers, Cyril, Dick and Dennis, followed in their dad’s footsteps and served their country through military service in World War Two, which Dennis said was a source of pride for his father.
The eldest, Cyril, served in the Royal Artillery, Dick served in the Royal Air Force and Dennis in the 1st Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment.
When he was in Burma, Dennis was diagnosed with acute appendicitis and underwent an operation at Kalaw before he was put on a train to a casualty clearance station at Meiktila.
“They put me on a stretcher and into a train carriage full of straw. I can remember seeing sparks come through a big hole in the ceiling, and then I smelled burning.
“As I couldn’t stand, I had to use my bush hat to put out the fire. When they opened the carriage, they thought I looked like a chimney sweep. I can remember it as though it happened today.”
After returning home for a short stint, Dennis went back to Burma and served as a colour sergeant in charge of rations for Japanese prisoners of war.
It was during that term of service that Dennis was diagnosed with stomach cancer, and while in a military hospital his weight dropped to just four stone.
“I was a bag of bones and was really ill,” said Dennis. “They used to call me the ‘miracle man’ because they thought I had died.”
After he was discharged, he spent a long time in Hillenden Military Hospital recovering from the cancer but went on to work as an aerospace engineer after the war.
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