Women reflect on their hero fathers

WAR HERO: John Shaw, second from left, father of Joyce Foxall, at St Thomas' Hospital, London, in 1917.

WAR HERO: John Shaw, second from left, father of Joyce Foxall, at St Thomas' Hospital, London, in 1917.

First published in News Kidderminster Shuttle: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

TWO Kidderminster sisters have paid tribute to their father, who fought on the frontline in the First World War.

Jean Gregory, 79, of Greenhill Oak, and Mavis Crumpton, 85, of Lea Bank Avenue, have spent a few quiet moments remembering Frank Preece over recent weeks following the centenary of the start of the bloody conflict.

The Kidderminster man, who was nicknamed Snowy because of his blond hair, fought in the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium and received a Military Medal of bravery for saving a comrade from No Man’s Land during a skirmish.

Mrs Gregory, who has four grandchildren and one great-grandchild, said: “We are very proud that he supported his country in this heroic way and he was an inspiring man. It was wonderful that he did what he did.

“He volunteered to go over the top and help rescue a wounded comrade. He was only a small man but he was strong, so he carried the soldier on his shoulder back to safety while under fire from the enemy.”

Mr Preece, who last lived in Goldthorn Place, Foley Park, with his wife Ida Preece, survived the war and was well known in the town for his fine tenor voice.

“I remember him being a very gentle and lovely man who everybody liked”, added Mrs Gregory.

Another Kidderminster resident has paid a similar tribute to a relative during the time of remembrance.

Joyce Foxall, 91, of Longfellow Green, attended a number of memorial services in honour of her father John Shaw, who suffered a shattered knee cap and received shrapnel wounds in the course of fighting for his country.

She said: “Like many veterans my father did not talk about the war because of the bad memories and the horror of what he went through but I am very proud of him. If he had not fought we would not have such a good life in Britain today and the sacrifice he and many others made secured the freedom we have.”

Mrs Foxall, a Second World War veteran who served in the Women's Royal Naval Service, received two medals for defence and victory herself during the conflict from 1939 to 1945.

She is also the oldest and longest-serving member of the Kidderminster branch of the Royal British Legion and has been selling poppies on the streets for more than 50 years.

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