REMEMBER WHEN: Memories of a wartime nurse

10:20am Sunday 22nd June 2014

By Gina Bebbington

WARTIME memories of a Castle character are being shared by a Northwich man who grew up in the village in the 1930s and ‘40s.

David Parkes, president of Mid Cheshire Musical Theatre Company, contacted the Guardian to share his memories of the woman who helped bring him into the world in 1933.

“Nurse Phyllis Crawley was the district nurse in the Castle area in the 1930s and also the midwife,” he said.

“I was the second child she brought into the world.”

David was the youngest of four children born to Joseph and Bertha Parkes at the family home in Zion Street.

Joseph was a tailor who had an instrumental role in Nurse Crawley’s own wartime story.

David said: “At the outbreak of war in 1939 Nurse Crawley volunteered her services to what was called the British Expeditionary Force (BEF).

“I would have been five or six at the time and I remember her coming with some grey material for my father to make into a uniform for her.

“It was light grey with red piping to the shoulders and pocket flaps, very smart.

“The BEF were outnumbered by Germans and we had the Dunkirk evacuation where several boats went out to bring the troops back – Nurse Crawley was involved in that.

“She had got a suitcase with her and when she went to get on the boat the officer said she couldn’t take the suitcase because there was no space.

“So she said that although they were fired on by Luftwaffe she opened the case, took out the uniform my father made for her and put it on under the uniform she had been issued with.

“She kicked the case into the ditch and said ‘whatever the Germans do they are not having my uniform’.”

Nurse Crawley, who lodged in Park Street, then spent the rest of the war in Egypt.

After the war she moved to Dorset, where David remembers holidaying with her as a child and in his teens.

“The last time I saw her I was probably about 16, that would have been in 1949,” she said.

“There may be some people in Castle who will remember her, she was a regular visitor.”


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