Could signet ring from this wartime tale be found beneath the Market Place?

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THE archaeological excavations taking place of parts of the Market Place in Shields may turn up something or nothing.

I mentioned previously those mythical tunnels, for instance (though maybe they weren’t so fanciful, I have a picture somewhere I’ll dig out).

But also, there were, as we know, large air raid shelters under the square during the last war. Perhaps evidence of these may reveal itself.

Certainly if anyone finds a signet ring, it will be a direct reminder of the tragedy wrought when the shelters were bombed, with significant loss of life, in 1941.

One consolation, however, is that it could at least be returned to the family of the owner.

He was Bob Eddon, who is the lad second from the left in the top row of this picture.

These are members of the Home Guard in Shields, taken in, it’s thought, about 1941

“It could be as late as 1945 but I don’t think so, because of the age of my dad on the picture, “ says his daughter Joyce Fuller (nee Eddon).

Bob was just 17 when he joined the Home Guard.

Says Joyce: “His dad, my grandad, had to lie about my dad’s age to get him in, when they both joined together. He was born in 1924,. That’s how the photo could not have been taken before 1941, when he became 17.”

Bob’s father, John Frederick Eddon, is in the bottom row on the extreme right. He and his family lived in Centenary Avenue at the time.

He had served in the First World War and had been taken prisoner at Ypres.

Joyce’s dad had himself tried to join the Royal Navy when the Second World War broke out.

“But he was refused, as he was an apprentice plater at Readhead’s shipyard throughout the war and was considered to be more useful there, building ships,” says Joyce.

But it would not protect him from the realities of war.

Says Joyce: “One of the stories I have been told is that my dad grew up quickly when he was helping to dig up bodies in South Shields Market after it was bombed, when he was just 17. I was told he had lost his signet ring while doing this – so if anyone finds it when the council digs the Market up please let me know!”

Joyce hopes the picture – is that the Londonderry Hall in the background, I wonder? – is of interest to readers.

“Someone might recognise their own grandad.”