On this evening, 75 years ago, a vast armada assembled in the English channel. The following morning, 6th June 1944, they landed on the beaches of Normandy.
Many young men of Manchester and Salford served their country and sacrificed their lives in WW2, including players of Eccles RFC.
Our research so far into the club’s archives and AGM minutes has identified four former players who we believe were killed in action: William Walker (British Army), Henry Keith Bradburn (Royal Airforce, possibly died 3rd April 1945), John Dawson Lomax (Merchant Navy, died Sept 1946 of injuries sustained in a torpedo attack on HMS Cheshire) and Joseph Dickinson (Royal Navy, possibly lost at sea, age 35).
Joe Dickinson was the son of Elizabeth and George Dickinson, who, along with his mother, were Eccles RFC committee members. We believe Joe may have been an Able Seaman (D/JX 284531) serving on HMS Blackwood (K313) a Royal Navy captain-class frigate that operated anti-submarine patrols as part of the 4th Escort Group. On 15 June 1944, whilst covering a convoy of ships bound for the allied invasion of Normandy, HMS Blackwood was sighted North West of Cap de la Hague in the English Channel by German U-Boat U-764 and hit by a torpedo. The fore part of the ship was blown off, killing 57 of her 156 crew. She was taken under tow but founded off Portland Bill the following day.
We’d like to confirm and share the stories of the above men. If you have any information, or know of a relative who played for Eccles RFC before 1939 and who served in WW2 please do get in touch.