Popular war vet Samuel dies at 91

Samuel with his great grandson Sam.
Samuel with his great grandson Sam.

Well-loved and “friendly” local war veteran Samuel Harrison has died, aged 91.

Samuel was born in Heckmondwike in 1924, and attended High Street School in the town. After finishing school, he went to work at Firth’s Mill in Heckmondwike.

He joined the army in 1942, aged 18, and spent much of the war fighting in the anti Tank Regiment in the Italian campaign, in Casino and Cortina.

“As a young man working in the mill, he jumped off a ledge, but fell and fractured his elbow” said his widow Helen. “He was taken to Staincliffe hospital.

“When he was wounded in Italy, he was treated by an English medic – he was asked “are you from Dewsbury?”, he said yes, and it turned out he was being treated by the same doctor who saw him for his elbow!”

She added: “Wherever he has been, he has always been well thought of, and he was such a friendly man.”

After leaving the army at the end of the war, he went to work in textiles, and met Helen through an old army comrade.

“My brother, who was friends with Samuel asked him to come out with him and his girlfriend,” said Helen. “Samuel didn’t want to be on his own, so they brought me along to make it a foursome.

“It was one hell of a blind date!”

The two married in 1949. They had two children, Keith (b. 1952) and Wendy (b. 1955).

Keith remembered his 
father fondly: “He was a 
man who was very sure of himself.

“Once he had made his mind up, it was very difficult to get him to change it.

“But he was very kind, and he would always make an effort to stop and talk to anyone and everyone.”

Samuel rose through the ranks in the textile industry, eventually managing a plant in Spennymoor, County Durham, in the 1970s.

It was during this time that he faced tough challenges.

“There were a lot of union disputes at the time,” said Keith. “So my dad used to have to sneak in through the back entrance to get to work.”

He eventually moved back to Gomersal in 1979, where he became active in local groups, becoming treasurer of the Spen branch of the British Legion. His funeral took place this week at St Mary’s Church before he was taken to Dewsbury Crematorium.