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Memoirs reveal amazing life of South Shields firing squad soldier who was ‘a real character’

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A FASCINATING piece of Tyne Dock’s history has been unearthed.

Cabinet-maker Mark Galbraith was recently carrying out a clear-out at his mother Anne’s home in Stewart Crescent when he came across a document written by a friend of his late father Jim.

I remember Harold telling me about his time in Italy during the war and how he was picked to be on a firing squad. He was a real character.

Harold Grant, who died several years ago, had written down his memories of Tyne Dock from the 1920s to 1950s. It evokes what life in the area was like over that period – and captures for posterity the people who lived there.

Mr Galbraith said: “I remember Harold telling me about his time in Italy during the war and how he was picked to be on a firing squad. He was a real character.

“It’s full of fascinating stories.

“He tells the story of his mother giving him money to go to the cinema. When he came back she was sitting in darkness. She’d given him the last few pennies she had and didn’t have enough left to pay for the gas.

“There is a tale of the man who used to stop traffic in Boldon Lane while he took imaginary sheep across the street.

“There is another character called Larsen, nicknamed ‘Lippy Larsen’, a real hard man who sought out the police to fight. He was later charged with the manslaughter of his wife and died in prison.

“We wouldn’t know anything about these characters if Harold hadn’t took the time to write his memories down.

“There won’t be many who were around at the time he writes about, but it gives a real insight into life then for those who weren’t.”

Mr Grant lived above the shops at The Nook for many years.