A Sanctuary Care resident in Redditch, who has dedicated many years of his life to serve in the RAF, has received a special recognition.
Rejoicing International Men’s Day (19 November), the team and residents at Brambles Residential Care Home in Birchfield Road hosted a celebratory tea party for all the male residents to mark their proud achievements throughout their lives, including 96-year-old Arthur Durkin.
Playing a significant part in D-Day
Arthur, who was born in Didsbury, Manchester in September 1920, was a proud member of the Ground Crew for the RAF 199 Squadron, where he played a significant part in the Normandy landings (D-Day) on Tuesday 6 June 1944.
Supporting many operations, Arthur and his squadron dropped metal foil strips to confuse defending radars in the largest seaborne invasion in history. His contribution was mentioned on the Channel 4 Despatches programme.
Before D-Day, Arthur always knew his preferred service was the RAF so volunteered his time to the ranks before he was called up. He undertook his training at Blackpool and he was based at RAF Lakenheath, before being transferred to RAF North Creake, Norfolk in 1944, where he reached the rank of leading aircraftman.
Proudest RAF moment
Arthur recalled his proudest moment from his RAF days to be: “Flying in the Stirlings has always been my most proud moment – the crew will always be special to me.”
Throughout his RAF years Arthur worked with many aircrafts including Stirlings, Halifaxes and Lancasters – but there was more to Arthur than just the RAF.
Finding love and being the semi-professional sportsman
Growing up with his parents, Samuel and Nance, who were newsagents, and his two sisters, Arthur attended his local infant and junior school on Beaver Road, and living in a small community his future wife Lilian, who he married in 1948 also attended the same school.
During his school years, Arthur was heavily involved in all sports but particularly rugby, where he played at his school club every night of the week, before playing semi-professionally for Burnage Rugby Club which he would eventually become president of.
“I’ve always been proud of my Dad…”
He and Lilian also had one daughter Jackie Durkin and speaking of her father, she said: “I’ve always been proud of my Dad, he has had many achievements with the RAF and he did so much for the service, he went from volunteering to leading aircraftman. He has always put 100 per cent into everything he has done and to top it off, he’s been a wonderful father to me – I am so proud my Dad has been celebrated for International Men’s Day.”
The Sanctuary Care home’s activities leader Fiona Morsy added: “We have many wonderful residents at Brambles and what they share is really heart-warming and ever so inspiring so whenever we can celebrate who they are and their amazing achievements, we will. Many people underestimate our older generation but in reality they have walked a path that many of us couldn’t even imagine.”
About International Men’s Day
International Men’s Day marks men across the country and encourages people to celebrate academic, employment, personal, social and health contributions of men of all ages.