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Early recruit who died in the battle to save Burma
A MALTON man who is thought to have been amongst the first to be called up to join the forces for the Second World War has been remembered by his grand-daughter as the 100th anniversary of the First World War approaches.
Born in 1914, George Ernest Spooner grew up playing the piano and dancing with local band Bradley’s Entertainers, before joining the 1st Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment when the war broke out.
He grew up with his two siblings and his mother, Florence and father, John in Bevan’s Hill, Old Malton before he became a father to his son Peter Bayes in 1935.
His grand-daughter, Vanessa Bayes, remembers the family struggles before Ernest, as he was known rather than George, went off to war.
“The family story is that Ernest’s mother would not allow Ernest and Dorothy, Peter’s mother, to marry as she was only 19 and the legal age for marriage without parents consent at that time was 21,” she said.
“It is quite remarkable that Dorothy managed to keep her son, as illegitimate children were usually taken off their mothers.
“But Dorothy had immense support from her parents, Alfred, who was the first taxi owner in Malton, and Rhoda.”
Ernest was unable to spend a lot of time with his son though as on January 18, 1942, the West Yorkshire Regiment was transferred to the Pegu force in Burma to join the ongoing battle there where there was heavy fighting.
It is during this heavy fighting that Ernest is said to have been killed at Pegu two months later on March 7, 1942.
Vanessa has spent time researching her grandfather with the help of Catherine Stallybrass using the remembrance folder in St Mary’s Church in Old Malton.
The research showed that Ernest has no marked grave but is commemorated at the Rangoon Memorial at Taukkyan War Cemetery, which bares the names of about 27,000 men who were part of the commonwealth forces and died during the battles in Burma.
Vanessa said: “Catherine would love other people to browse through the folder and leave any further information or comments.”
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