Friday, December 05, 2008

A wedding dress made of parachute silk

Wedding photograph of Jim Toole and Catherine Hazard, 17 February 1943
Jim and Catherine were married at St Mary's R.C. Church, Cleator
Catherine's pretty wedding dress was made from a German parachute!


On 17 February 1943 Private James ('Jim') Toole, Border Regiment, of Frizington Road, Frizington married Miss Catherine Hazard of Hilden Road, Cleator at St Mary's R.C. Church, Cleator. The Parish Priest of St Mary's, Cleator, Father Frederick Cuthbert Clayton O.S.B., conducted the wedding ceremony. Jim Toole was the son of Francis Toole and Jane Toole (née Huddart). Catherine Hazard was the daughter of John Hazard and Margaret Hazard (née Devitt). The Best Man was John Toole and the Chief Bridesmaid was Philomena Hazard.

With wartime shortages of material many wartime brides found it difficult to have a white wedding dress made for their big day. Catherine's wedding dress was made from the remnants of a German parachute recovered from a pilot whose plane had been shot down in the Battle of Britain. Jim wore his army uniform to get married in, as most servicemen tended to do during the war.

It is also a poignant photograph. Jim Toole took part in the Normandy Landings, being among the first troops to land on the Beaches on D-Day 6 June 1944. Later that year, on 30 October, Jim lost his life in the Netherlands when he was shot by a sniper.

For additional information click on 'Comments' below

2 Comments:

Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

On D-Day 6 June 1944 Jim Toole planted a Union Jack in the sand of the Normandy beaches. Four years after the evacuation from other beaches further to the north at Dunkirk, the Allies were back in France. The Normandy Landings would eventually lead to North West Europe being freed from German Occupation.

For the Normandy Landings, the 6th Battalion The Border Regiment formed part of the Beach Groups. The Battalion were part of No 10 Beach Group. Their role meant landing with the early assault troops and then organising the beaches and establishing dumps for supplies and reinforcements. This important role continued well into August 1944. By then, the British infantry troops had begun to run short of trained reinforcements. Consequently, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery made the decision to disband the Beach Groups and draft officers and men to the combatant infantry battalions.

Many of the Border Regiment servicemen were then drafted to the 15th (Scottish) Division in or shortly after August 1944. Practically the whole of the 6th Battalion The Border Regiment were drafted to one of nine battalions making up the 15th (Scottish) Division: 25 officers and 550 other ranks.

On 2 September 1944 Private Jim Toole was drafted to the 1st Battalion of the King's Own Scottish Borderers. The KOSB's main recruitment area is southern Scotland, and not far from the traditional Border Regiment recruitment area of Cumberland and Westmorland. So, on the whole it was an easy transition.

Unfortunately, Private Jim Toole was not to serve with the KOSB for very long. On 30 October 1944, by which time the Division had reached the Netherlands, Jim Toole was killed in action. He was interred at Overloon War Cemetery, which is between Nijmegen and Venlo. Jim Toole's Service Number was 3602688 and his grave reference in Overloon Cemetery is II.B.3.

Jim Toole was one of over 100 men and women from the Cleator and Cleator Moor area to lose their lives during the Second World War and remembered on the Cleator Moor 'Roll of Honour'. He is also one of 23 servicemen from the Second World War on the War Memorial at Frizington - the village of his birth - and one of 10 Second World War servicemen listed on the War Memorial for the Trumpet Terrace district of Cleator Village. Jim Toole will always be remembered.

The wedding dress Catherine wore on the day of her wedding to Jim Toole in February 1943 would be kept in perfect condition, a reminder of the happier times of the war years. Then, about ten years after the war, Catherine married her second husband, Bill Campbell who had served in the RAF at the time of the Normandy Landings. In 1994, to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the Normandy Landings Catherine and Bill related their story – and that of Jim Toole – to a local newspaper supplement ‘”Cumbria at War”.

Thanks the following for assistance with information for this article:

Mr Peter Bradley, a nephew of Jim Toole

The Border Regiment & KORBR Museum, Carlisle

Cumbria County Archives, Whitehaven Office.

‘The Whitehaven News’, “Cumbria at War” supplement, June 1994

Friday, 05 December, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My father John Prior also landed as part of 6th Battalion The Border Regiment and was part of the no 10 Beach group. He to was transfered to the KOSB in August. We have just returned with him from the 65th aniversary in normandy where the brave soldiers will never be forgotten.

Saturday, 13 June, 2009  

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