Collier Row woman remembers soldier uncle 70 years after his death
- Credit: Archant
At the age of 22, Donald McPherson’s future was full of promise. But his life was cut heartbreakingly short on the fields of war.
Donald was killed in Germany while serving in the Second World War and his niece Jean Stampton, from Collier Row, is remembering his sacrifice 70 years on.
Her uncle was the second son of John and Hannah McPherson, who lived in Brockley, south London.
One of six children, he was educated at the Penrith Boys’ National School and the Grammar School, in Cumbria, before enlisting.
Jean, of Navarre Gardens, said: “My grandparents didn’t want him to do it, but he did.”
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Donald received his commission in October 1944 and became a Second Lieutenant, to the pride of his working class family.
But their beloved son died while serving with the 555 Field Company Royal Engineers, in March 1945.
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Jean said: “All I know is they had been building bridges. Somebody was driving him in Germany and they went over a landmine.
“My grandparents were sent a telegram saying he was wounded, and another saying he had died, but I think he died straight away and they were being kind.”
Donald died on March 3 and his driver succumbed to his wounds a week later.
In a letter dated March 10, 1945 to Jean’s parents, her grandparents wrote of their “torture”, saying they had “built” themselves up in the hopes of visiting him, only to hear their “poor lad” had died.
Jean said: “It is very upsetting because I always think of my grandmother – all those years went by and she couldn’t mention his name without crying.
“I don’t think they ever dreamed that Donald would be killed.”
Jean has paid her respects at Mook War Cemetery, in Limburg, the Netherlands, since 2010.
Her Dutch friend Bob Onderdelinden originally showed her around and tends Donald’s grave.
Jean will return on May 4 to mark the Netherlands’ Remembrance Day.
She believes it is important to commemorate all those who died defending our country and values.
“They gave their lives and liberated people. Who knows where Donald would have ended up had he not been killed.”