In-depth research on late war hero given to museum archive

Pat's John Hannaford file at Bexhill Museum SUS-161114-144047001
Pat's John Hannaford file at Bexhill Museum SUS-161114-144047001

A chance find followed by a chance encounter has resulted in a well-wisher contributing her researches to Bexhill Museum’s archives.

The moment that retired primary school head Pat Strickson saw a watercolour of the De La Warr Pavilion she fell in love with it.

When she had the picture framed she learned the artist was a local war hero. Immediately, she yearned to learn more about him.

John Hannaford died a year ago. His death came shortly after he had penned a moving tribute to those of his Royal Engineers bomb disposal officer colleagues who lost their lives attempting to de-fuse unexploded munitions.

John, a retired architect, was concerned that the work of war-time bomb disposal units had been overlooked by history. He had been invited to address a memorial service in St Paul’s Cathedral but was unable to attend because of his wife’s ill health. His address was read on his behalf by his daughter.

Sadly, John’s wife died shortly after. John died within days of her.

With the consent of John’s family, Pat has begun writing John’s biography. Last Friday - Armistice Day - Pat presented her initial findings to museum curator Julian Porter. The ring-folder was decorated in the colours of John’s old regiment. She also had a scrapbook filled with press cuttings and photographs of John and of bombs he de-fused.

The ring-folder has taken its place alongside other archive material available to the public in the independent, voluntarily-run museum’s Access Centre. Later, when Pat’s researches are completed, it will also be available digitally like other Access Centre material.

Julian said: “I am delighted to have such a wonderful addition to the Access Centre. It is essential that we record these important local personalities for posterity.”

Pat said: “John should have written this book. He was so good at writing. He was a wonderful man. I would have loved to have met him.”

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