This 94-year-old Sheffield war veteran has been hailed a ‘wonder’ after single-handedly raising £7,000 to honour his fallen comrades.
Great grandfather Bill Carline spent 18 months collecting thousands in community donations for a new monument dedicated to the memory of 19 Frecheville men killed during World War Two.
The former coal merchant wanted a permanent memorial to the men – some of whom he grew up with.
Bill, speaking after celebrations to open the memorial overlooking Frecheville Pond, said: “It’s fantastic – a dream come true.
“It took a little longer than I’d hoped but you’ve got to just keep on fighting.
“I just carried on speaking to people and explaining what it was for, people responded fantastically.
“I was brought up with these lads who died and I knew two of them. There were trees planted in their names on Heathfield Road but trees don’t last forever and they deserved something permanent.
“So I set myself out to do something and I’ve achieved it, that’s it.”
Determined Bill, who served in the RAF from 1942 to 1946 as a corporal in the transport and supply operations, launched his crusade in January 2014.
He raised £5,000 in just a few months with the help of residents, relatives of the 19 men who died, plus local pubs and shops which staged events and plans were submitted to Sheffield Council.
Work began in June and the memorial at the rear of Frecheville Community Centre on Churchdale Road was unveiled on Saturday to coincide with VJ Day, the day World War Two finally ended.
The Sheffield Pipe Band played and a community event with cadet displays was held at the nearby Sherwood pub, where Bill is a regular, afterwards.
Bill said it had been an ‘emotional’ event, adding: “I’m a bit of a softie.
“My daughter says I can’t rest but I’m just going to take it easy and carry on with my life.”
Donations from the community more than covered the cost of the memorial and any money left over will now be donated to forces’ associations.
Bill’s proud daughter Julie Kemp, 64, said: “He is an absolute wonder.
“I’m so proud of him, we all are.
“Everybody knows him around her and people have been wonderful, we would like to thank everyone who helped.”
Frecheville Coun Bryan Lodge added: “The memorial is absolutely fantastic and it is all down to the commitment of Bill.
“When he first started talking about this everyone was hopeful but it was his determination that has brought this through.
“It is great that 70 years since the end of the war there is now a proper war memorial that people can visit, there is a plaque in the community centre but that is not always open so this is a fitting tribute.”
The 19 Frecheville men who died were J Ashford, DH Beresford, RJ Booker, LA Cook, P Cowlishaw, C Haynes, JC Harrold, WA Harrison, GR Hargate, S Head, R Knott, A E Letch, A P Manning, C Pratt, H Rastrick, C A Sugden, GR Turner, E Vickers and S Watson.
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