Remarkable Sheffield World War II veteran Arthur Cockings celebrates 100th birthday

Sheffield man Arthur Cockings, who was involved in the ill-fated Operation Market Garden during World War II, and who still lives independently, turns 100 today.

Saturday, 7th October 2017, 2:03 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 1:21 am
Arhur Cockings turns 100 today

George Arthur Cockings, who was born in Pitsmoor on October 7, 1917, has some remarkable genes in his family.

The man who goes by his middle name is one of four siblings who lived into their 90s. Brother Ron is 90. Sisters Lena and May have died.

Arthur still recalls a happy childhood living in Sheffield, with siblings who remained close into their later years.

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He left All Saints School at Pitsmoor at 14 to work at Richardson Brothers, where he made mining tools.

From there he joined the Yorkshire Engine Company, and although he was in a reserved occupation, Arthur joined the Royal Engineers as a blacksmith when the war broke out.

Daughter in law Karen Cockings said Arthur’s sharp memory still served him, and he recalls plenty of wartime experiences, including transporting supplies to Russia, travelling overland from the Persian Gulf.

His intended role in Market Garden was to help repair bridges damaged by bombing around Arnhem, in the Netherlands.

“He remembers that, of course, it was all secret and their small company of about 20 men were landed on the beaches near Dieppe in the dead of night,” Karen said.

“They were ordered to clear the coast and make their own way about 200 miles to Mechelen in Belgium.

“This was a dangerous journey but he speaks fondly of the Belgian people and of working later alongside the Americans, who willingly shared their stocks of spam and fruit cocktail.”

Arthur’s future wife, Winnifred xx, had also been involved in the war effort, in the land army and as an air traffic controller.

The pair married in 1944.

Arthur and Winnifred had three children, Roger, Steven and Susan, and six grandchildren.

Arthur returned to the steel industry after the war, working at Hadfields Limited and Brown Bayleys in Sheffield.

Winnifred died in 2002, but Arthur continues to live independently in a bungalow

“He now has seven great grandchildren, of whom he is immensely proud,” Karen said.

The family will celebrate with a lunch today and a party tomorrow.