Derby-born veteran Harold Barker celebrated his 96th birthday on Armistice Day. The former farmer grew up on his parents' farm in the village of Burnaston and went on to become a sergeant in the Military Provost Staff Corps.After training in Lincoln and Scotland he started army life and sailed from Southampton to Dieppe, in France, then on across Europe. In North Africa, he was placed in charge of prisoners awaiting trial and served in the Egyptian cities of Cairo and Alexandria.
His son Clive (70) says that his father has shared many army stories with him over the years. He said: "Back in the 1940s, the airfield was a pilot training school and Harold has not forgotten a Tiger Moth crashing in a nearby field, unfortunately killing the two pilots."He remembers the many air raid warnings and anti aircraft guns around the airfield firing at German planes which were trying to target the airfield and the Rolls-Royce works in Derby."In a nearby field, a search light crew would franticly scan the night sky trying to pick out the high flying bombers. Shrapnel and metal fragments from exploding anti aircraft shells often rattled down over the farm house and shed roofs as the family huddled in a cold metal Anderson air raid shelter."He didn't talk much about his time in the army, but he can remember mines floating near the ship in the bay of Biscay. They were on deck shooting at the mines to blow them up before the ship hit them and he remembers seeing the total devastation of war torn parts of France."He says he went in the army in 1944, he definitely was in through 1945 and Egypt in 1946. He saw a lot of bomb damage in France and bodies around Egypt. He says the war was still on in Germany when he went over. There were a lot of flash points flaring up."I don't think he was directly involved in fighting but ready to be sent at anytime. His unit of the Military Provost Staff corp were transferred to Egypt to help keep the peace and control prisoners waiting to be transported back to the UK.
After he was demobbed from the army, Harold returned to farming in Burnaston, where he met and married a nurse called Iris. They married in 1951, started up a successful market garden business in Etwall and had three sons, before Iris died at the age of 90.
Harold now lives in Willlington and celebrated his birthday with a meal with his son Clive and some other family members.