A call-out to the messenger boys

Richard Armstrong in his messenger days (circled)
Richard Armstrong in his messenger days (circled)
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AN octogenarian wants to hear from other men who played a vital part in relaying messages during the Second World War.

Richard Armstrong was one of the young lads who was part of Hartlepool’s Civil Defence team during the conflict.

Richard Armstrong.

Richard Armstrong.

Aged 17, he was one of a number of teenage boys who would get on their pushbikes and relay news of bombings in the town as part of the war effort.

Now at 85, he is keen to hear from any other members of the messenger service.

Mr Armstrong, who served with the Royal Marines in the war after being called up aged 18, said: “I have fond memories of my time as a messenger boy with the Civil Defence.

“There were quite a number of boys about my age involved and we all had to have a bike and we were on standby until we were required.”

Mr Armstrong said the service had a base in Burn Road and added: “If we got bombed anywhere in Hartlepool, and the communication lines were broken, we had to take a message to the corporation yard in Burn Road.”  He says he particularly remembers Dickie Hamilton, who lived in Barton Avenue, and wonders if he is still around.

“We had to go in pairs, for safety, he would go and I would give him five minutes then catch him up,” he added. “I knew him particularly well, we were good friends.

“I remember going to Burn Road when there were bombs on the Raby Estate and the communications were down.”

He added that his cousin, Vince Rhoden, was also a messenger boy, but he has sadly passed away.

Mr Armstrong’s mother Jane passed away when he was nine years old and his father, also called Richard, served with the Royal Engineers during the war and was wounded in Bayeux, in France.

Richard senior lived in Hartlepool until he passed away when he was around 70.

Mr Armstrong’s sister Lily served with the Wrens but sadly was killed when she was hit by a car on a pedestrian crossing in Kenya.

He had two other sisters, Florrie and Dora, as well as a half-brother called William Carter, who was in the Merchant Navy.

After his service, Mr Armstrong worked as a millwright for town firm Ed Wrightson’s before moving to Horsforth, near Leeds, where he married his wife Audrey.

The Leeds General Infirmary maintenance foreman is dad to Jill, 59, and Neil, 56, a Newcastle-based video artist who featured in the Mail last week appealing for photographs and film footage of the Queens Rink for a project which forms part of the town’s Queens Jubilee celebrations.

Any former members of Hartlepool Civil Defence can contact Mr Armstrong on (0113) 258 8218.

To contribute to Neil’s project, call (0191) 3759020 or email neil@neilarmstrong.me