Garner, James

James GarnerMy father: James Garner, Lancashire Fusiliers, POW number 1206 was injured during an air attack on Saturday 2nd December, 1944, when a shelter within the camp was directly hit by bombs. His cousin: Gunner John Goring, Royal Artillery, POW No.1053 was killed during the same allied air raid; they were next to each other in the shelter.

As soon as it became known that a shelter had been hit, several men left their own shelter and before the aircraft had left the area, worked unceasingly until the last of the injured and last body had been extricated from the debris. One of these men was Albert (Happy) Eckersall, L/Sto. R.N. POW. No.5310.

My father never saw Happy again after that fateful day, until my brother came across a reference to the camp at HMS Dolphin some 46 yrs later. They met up again at Gosport submarine museum, where their story made the local paper. Dad and Happy remained friends until dad sadly passed away in 1995.

Received: February 2013
From: Lynne Wilkinson
On behalf of: James Garner


  1. Kerry Stevens says

    My great uncle was Albert ‘Happy’ Eckersall and I knew nothing of this famous past even when as youngsters we would visit his Portsmouth home. I just remeber a fun loving, practicle joking person. My grandfather Tom Eckersall who was a firefighter was Uncle Alberts brother but my dad knows far more about the history than I. I find it lovely to read about Uncle Albert!

    • Lynne Wilkinson says

      Sorry for not replying sooner, but I didn’t realise anyone had posted a comment until now. I only met Happy and his wife once at my brother Jim’s house, when I was visiting one time; although my parents would often meet up with them if they were staying at Jim’s.

      We’re, of course, very grateful for what Happy and the fellow POWs did the day of that camp air raid, otherwise we may not be here. They were all certainly brave and resilient men to survive what they went through. Although I was brought up knowing about dad and his cousin being POWs etc., it’s not until very recent years that I’ve found out more and come to realise what they experienced at such a young age.

      • Kerry Stevens says

        I was just reading the newspaper cutting which I hadn’t noticed before and noted Jim was from Swinton/Manchester which bizarrely is where I’m from. Uncle Albert’s brother my Grandad Tom lived in Farnworth/Bolton and their only Son my Dad Rom settled in Swinton when he married my mum!!

        • Lynne Wilkinson says

          Yes, that’s right. We lived in Swinton. I grew up on Partington Lane, though I now live in Berkshire. I’m not 100% certain, but I think there is a family link by marriage too. A great-aunt on my dad’s side (Mary Ellen Garner) was married to a John Eckersall and I’m sure my mum said he was linked to Happy. She was a fountain of family knowledge, but is sadly no longer with us, so I can’t check. My Ancestry tree subscription has expired for the moment too, otherwise I’d do a bit more research. I’ll be seeing my brother next week, so I will ask him if he remembers.

          • Arnold Eckersall says

            Lynne, If you go into Ancestry you can check my ECKERSALL tree and access it on a two week free offer. Happy was my father and Tom my uncle Arnold Eckersall

        • Lynne Wilkinson says

          Just an up-date: I asked my brother and he confirmed that there was a link by marriage. Small world!

    • Arnold Eckersall says

      Hi, My father was Albert “Happy” Eckersall. I have just come across the various mail bits about the long walk and relationships. I can just about remember visiting my Grandparents , Joe and Alice, in Farnworth. I do remember going there when Portsmouth played Bolton in the FA cup. I remember Tom and Rhoda and Flo etc . I have a lot of material on my fathers days in the POW camps. I also have the various cups and plaques that he won as The Imperial Services Light Heavy Weight Champion. Dad died in 2006. Obviously there are a lot of Eckersalls living in Lancs and putting them into their various families is sometimes problematic. I do have an Ancestry tree at Ancestry and I am happy to have contact with relations. Arnold Eckersall

      • Richard Priest says

        Afternoon Mr Eckersall, soory to email but I’m researching into HMS Seal and just enquiring if I can get in touch – your late Father and all of the crew were part of an incredible story, and brave men. Best wishes Richard

        • A Eckersall says

          Hi Richard, I am Albert Eckersall,s son.I have just stumbled across your message on Lamsdorf Remembered. My father died in 2006 and I have most of his trophies and various pieces of information to do with HM Seal.I also have a copy of the book written about Seal hitting a mine, resting on the bottom of the Baltic and then its miraculs surface and surrender..I have my fathers book of photos and comments in a folder that he kept and added to at various times.My wife and I had contact with Captain Lonsdales wife, Ethnie until about three years ago..I also have an ancestry tree of the Eckersall family going back to Ethelred the Unready and King David of ScotlandIt was only after my mother died that he really talked to me about his POW days as I think he felt strongly that he was fortunate to have survived the sinking and the war but also that his boxing career could have been as a professional. By all means contact me.Arnold Eckersall

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