William and Hilda Blakey Lived in number Eight Barnard Cresent in Hebburn for most of their married lives. This page deals with some of Williams service life and a letter that was received by Hilda.

Wliilam was born in Jarrow in 1912 and worked as a miner before enlisting in the Green Howards on the 3rd of October 1930 for seven years service with the Colours and five years in the reserve, serving at home and abroad in India amongst other places

During his service he met Hilda who lived in Trowbridge in Whiltshire and the moved to Hebburn and started a family.


  Officers Mess
164th Infantry O.C.T.U

Dear Mrs Blakey

I wonder if you remember me. Your husband was my batman, in June 1942 I was rather badly wounded on a night attack; he was with me at the time, and refused to leave me when the Battalion withdrew. My other Gunmen where killed. So he and I were taken prisoner by the Italians in the morning. Naturally I can never forget what he did for me but for his prompt attention and his entire absence of fear when considerable fire was coming down on us. I might have easily died.

I don’t want you to repeat this, but since my arrival in this country I have put him in for a decoration which he richly deserves, I hope he gets one but the fact that this took place 2 and a half years ago and the fact that he was took prisoner may go against the award.

After spending nearly 3 months in an Italian hospital and a further 10 months in a prison camp I was lucky enough to escape at my third attempt after the armistice. I spent two months in the hills in Italy and then succeeded into getting into Switzerland. After nine months there when the French border was open, I was able to get back to this country.

I wrote to the Infantry records for Blakey’s whereabouts and they told me that he had escaped and was “somewhere in Italy”. I then wrote for your address which they would not give me, but at length agreed to forward a letter to you.

If there is anything in the world that I can do for you, please let me know, not only for what he did for me when I was wounded, but for the whole time he was my batman, he did so much for me. I would like to think he was not only my batman, but also my friend.

I am now Instructing Officer Cadets and the above address will always find me

Yours Very Sincerely

John Hughes


The only recognition that was received was that he was mentioned in despatches, Anyone wants to look this up for me feel free, Ive never found the time

(Click to enlarge)