Harold Wood former shop display manager celebrates 100th birthday

PUBLISHED: 17:00 04 June 2018

Bernard 'Bernie' Buckle celebrating his 100th birthday with his family. Photo by Ellie Hoskins

Bernard 'Bernie' Buckle celebrating his 100th birthday with his family. Photo by Ellie Hoskins

Ellie Hoskins +44(0)7743306087

A former department store window display manager dubbed “Basher Buckle” for his boxing skill remains a knockout after celebrating his 100th birthday.

Bernard (Bernie) Buckle, of Harold Wood – a former Harold Wood Scout leader – was born in Tidworth, Hampshire, in 1918 to father Arthur, a cavalryman in the 18th Hussars, and mother Henrietta.

He was named after the Barnardo’s children’s home where his dad was cared for after losing both parents.

Bernie was called up in 1940 aged 21, spending six years with the Devonshire Regiment during the Second World War. He was stationed in India, West Africa and Burma.

“It was bloody horrible in the jungle. But you did get good food in the regiment. You got lots of potatoes. You always got plenty of potatoes,” Bernie said.

Sportsmad, he was a keen lightweight boxer inspired to enter the ring after a friend of his dad’s gave him a pair of boxing gloves when he was a child. Army mates nicknamed him “Basher Buckle”.

“I did quite a few knockouts, but was never knocked out. I sometimes lost on points,” he said.

During his boxing career he met heavyweight Henry Cooper and Freddie Mills – the world light heavyweight champion of the world from 1948 to 1950.

After the war, the ex-warrant officer got a job as display manager in charge of windows and catwalk shows in a 28-year career which saw him work for stores including Roomes of Upminster. He once met England striker Jimmy Greaves drafted in to boost business.

“I really enjoyed my working life,” the proud owner of the West African Defence, England Defence and Burma Star medals said.

At the age of 34 Bernie married 20-year-old Jean, his next door neighbour when he lived in Hillcrest Road, Hornchurch. They went on to have three children, June, Paul and Roy who joined well-wishers at a party in the King Harold in Station Road on May 28.

Speaking after the party about the secret to a long life, Bernie, who sticks to two pints a week, advised people to stop smoking.Friends and family joined together to toast “Basher Buckle” marking his 100th year.

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