These Stevenage war heroes spent Christmas day in very different circumstances during the war

George Matthews worked as a driver assigned to the Desert Rats in 1942. Credit: Barry Matthews

George Matthews worked as a driver assigned to the Desert Rats in 1942. Credit: Barry Matthews - Credit: Archant

As you tuck into your turkey this Christmas bear a thought for those who marked the big day in very different circumstances in years gone by.

Frank Dymoke played for Stevenage Town Football Club and in this team photograph you can see him in

Frank Dymoke played for Stevenage Town Football Club and in this team photograph you can see him in the back row, third from the right. - Credit: Archant

Frank Dymoke, who lived in Stevenage until he died at the age of 79 in 1972, spent Christmas 1914 in the trenches in France during the famous First World War truce.

Frank, who played football for what is now Stevenage FC in the 1920s, described the day in letter to the Comet in 1971.

He said: “We exchanged sweets and smokes and played football with a rag ball. It seemed as if the war was over.”

George Matthews' dinner in the desert in 1942.

George Matthews' dinner in the desert in 1942. - Credit: Archant

Nearly 30 years later, the world was at war once again and George Matthews was working as a driver in the Royal Army Service Corps in North Africa.


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Just weeks after the Second Battle of El Alamein, which turned the fighting in North Africa in the Allies favour, George was able to tuck in to a desert dinner of roast turkey, vegetables, Christmas pudding, fruit and nuts, beer, Christmas cake and mince pies.

His son Barry, a retired hypnotist who also lives in Stevenage, said: “One of his main duties was working as an ambulance driver. He used to go to the front and retrieve bodies and wounded to bring back to the medical corps.

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“There wasn’t a lot of food around so him and his friends used to barter and haggle with the Arabs swapping old jerry cans for eggs, chickens, bacon, butter and whatever else he could get their hands.”

George moved to Stevenage when the New Town was being built in 1950, remaining there until his death in 2000.

l Do you have memories of Christmas past spent in unusual circumstances? Let us know – email news@thecomet.net

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