Incredible life and times of Bertie, 98

Bertie Reed
Bertie Reed

A son has paid tribute to his father who lived an ‘incredible life’.

Bertie Reed, a Second World War veteran, died of pneumonia on August 6, aged 98.

Bertie Reed was one of the last of Crawley's WW2 veterans

Bertie Reed was one of the last of Crawley's WW2 veterans

He was one of the last of Crawley’s World War II veterans and moved to the town in the early 1960s when he came to work at Mallory Batteries, which later became Duracell.

He leaves his son, Paul, 50, and two grandchildren, Ed and Poppy.

Paul, a military historian and author, who lives in South Yorkshire, said: “My dad lived a long and in many ways incredible life, having principles which he fought for time and again.

“He was one of the last World War II veterans in Crawley, and one of the last of the ‘D-Day Dodgers’ – the men who fought in Italy against the Nazis.

My dad lived a long and in many ways incredible life, having principles which he fought for time and again.

Paul Reed

“My father was someone to admire as he stood up for his beliefs on so many occasions in his life, and more than that he was a good and loving father, and will be sorely missed by his family.”

Bertie was born in the East End of London in 1919. He grew up in the poverty of the 1920s and against a backdrop of Mosley’s British Union of Fascists in Cable Street in 1936.

He wanted to volunteer for the Spanish Civil War but his mother, who was a single parent, depended on his income and he put his beliefs aside and helped her instead, said Paul.

When the Second World War broke out Bertie was working for Marconi on radio and radar development, and remained with the firm until 1942 when he joined the army and trained as a signaller in the Royal Artillery.

He landed at Naples just in time to see Mount Vesuvius erupt and in January 1944 landed at Anzio, where he was among thousands of Allied troops trapped until the breakout six months later.

He took part in the Liberation of Rome and later fought with Indian troops near Rimini.

He had a lucky escape when he was nearly killed in April 1945 when the tank he was in was hit.

After Italy he went to Burma and India, where he remained until Partition and finally came home.

After the war he became a musician and played the drums and saxophone, and moved to Crawley, where he met his wife of 49 years, Joan, who died aged 83, in 2015.

Bertie worked for Duracell Batteries until retirement and Joan was a teaching assistant at Broadfield North School for more than 20 years.

Their son Paul was the school’s first pupil in 1972.

To read about Bertie’s war experiences, visit: www.world-at-war.co.uk/?p=319.