A family full of war heroes

Derek Armitage in Wesley Square

Derek Armitage in Wesley Square

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MODEST Derek Armitage likes to play down his own part in history.

The former Hermit Street and Dent Street resident grew up to become a project engineer on the electronics control section of the legendary supersonic plane Concorde.

Derek and Pam Armitage in Wesley Square

Derek and Pam Armitage in Wesley Square

But the father-of-three, grandfather of seven and great grandfather of two prefers to concentrate on the people further back in his family tree.

His grandfather Charles Armitage, born in 1885, was a Hartlepool man. He was married to Maria Alderson in 1910 and, two years later, enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps.

The First World War broke out and he served his country, but he lost an eye and was discharged on medical grounds.

His heroics won him a Silver War badge and went on to live in Olive Street where he remained until 1956 when he died aged 72.

Derek and Pam Armitage in Wesley Square

Derek and Pam Armitage in Wesley Square

Charles’ brother Alfred was the youngest of the Armitage sons to George and Florence, who lived in Hart Street in Hartlepool.

He enlisted as a Private in the Duke of Wellington (West Riding Regiment) 2nd and 4th Battalion. He was 18 when he enlisted in 1917.

The war was well under way when he joined the front line but his fate was tragic. His regiment was attacked at Solesmes in October 1918.

There were 25 casualties and Alfred was one of them. He died of his wounds on November 4, 1918 aged 19.

Derek and Pam Armitage in Wesley Square

Derek and Pam Armitage in Wesley Square

Sadly, he perished just seven days before the Armistice came to end the war.

Derek said: “Alfred is buried in the North-East corner of Solesmes communal cemetery on the eastern outskirts of Ovillers in France.”

The third brother was James - born in 1893 and who enlisted in December 1915.

He spent three years in the Army Service Corps as a driver and was aged 22 when he joined up.

Derek and Pam Armitage in Wesley Square

Derek and Pam Armitage in Wesley Square

He left for Salonica in September 1916 yet within three months he had contracted tetanus and had to be admitted to hospital.

He was discharged the next February and returned to his unit in October 1917. His service saw him win the British War Victory Medal.

James married Ivy Hewitson in Hartlepool in 1923 and they had a son called John who was born in 1926. James died in Bishop Auckland in 1952 aged 59.

A generation later, Derek’s father Matthew was a member of the King’s Dragoon Guards. He enlisted in 1928 and served in the Second World War. It was when he was posted to Singapore that Derek and the rest of the family left town - only to return occasionally for holidays.

Derek, now of Twyford in Berkshire, said: “I try to visit Hartlepool every year with my wife to see two cousins.”

He and his wife Pam, 75, have been married for 54 years and said: “We have a happy family. We are an inspiration to them and they are an inspiration to us.”

Derek and Pam Armitage in Wesley Square

Derek and Pam Armitage in Wesley Square

Derek would love to hear from anyone who remembers him from his Hartlepool days.

Those who do should contact Chris Cordner on (01429) 239377, or by emailing chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk

l The Mail is marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War throughout 2014. Coverage will be continuing until the centenary of the Bombardment of Hartlepool in December. If you have Great War memories or memorabilia then please contact our newsdesk on (01429) 239380. Get in touch.

Derek and Pam Armitage in Wesley Square

Derek and Pam Armitage in Wesley Square

Derek Armitage in Wesley Square

Derek Armitage in Wesley Square

Derek Armitage in Wesley Square

Derek Armitage in Wesley Square

CHARLES Armitage and his wife Maria, with their children Matthew and Florence in 1912

CHARLES Armitage and his wife Maria, with their children Matthew and Florence in 1912

MATTHEW Armitage in 1939

MATTHEW Armitage in 1939