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A little insight into my own family history, focusing on my father, John Millward

I’ve not shared much about my own family history on Family Tree Genie. So I thought I’d offer a little insight now and tell you more about my beloved father, John Millward. Born on 24 May 1924 in Sacriston, Durham,  his parents were George Millward and Hannah Vasey and he was the youngest (by nine years) of three. He had a brother called Thomas and a sister Eveline.

After his father died when John was approaching his sixteenth birthday, he decided to enlist. He tried to join the Royal Navy but, as he was underage, was rebuffed. However, he tried again on 25 August 1942 and was successful, finally enlisting on 26 October 1942 at the ripe old age of 18. It brings tears to my eyes just to think about him, being so young.

He served out of Lowestoft, Suffolk in the Royal Naval Patrol Service and, training as a cook, became ship’s cook on a series of vessels until August 1946. Dad always said his crewmates called his bread “Angel Cake” as it was so light and he couldn’t make enough of it.

The vessels were small, often wooden-hulled minesweepers and he served across the Asian subcontinent as his medals testify.

When he was 24, he married Agnes Chapman, the daughter of Joseph Chapman and Margaret Leighton, on 24 July 1948 at St Mary’s in Alsager. They had one son, and that was me. Born in March 1953.

My dear mother died on 4 March 1997 at home in Alsager. John survived her by just over six years before dying in Leighton Hospital in October 2003 following a short illness. Hospitalised for just over a week, he died within 20 minutes of our leaving him to go home for a couple of hours’ rest.

We miss him dearly. Although obviously difficult to write, I feel strongly about family and knowing who we are and where we come from. It’s important to acknowledge those before us. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be here or have so many cherished memories. The photograph above is of my father John, myself and my son Alex, circa 1989.

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