Sunday, October 28, 2007

The final voyage of wartime evacuee Tom Coyne

During the time the BBC "People's War" project was active I was privileged to listen to the wartime stories of many people, including relatives, friends and many I had never previously met. One of those whom I met for the first time through the "People's War" project was Tom Coyne from South Shields who had been an evacuee to my hometown of Whitehaven, Cumbria during the Second World War, staying with a couple called Jack and Lizzie Finnegan.

For a long time Tom had wanted to find out where Mr and Mrs Finnegan were buried and visit their grave. Eventually I was able to find out from their relatives where they were buried and was able to tell Tom where this was. In October 2007 Tom Coyne returned to Whitehaven with his family for a few days, where he was finally able to visit Mr and Mrs Finnegan’s grave in Whitehaven Cemetery, in what proved to be Tom’s final voyage.

(For further information click on ’Comments’ below)


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Because Tom Coyne's wartime family history covered many varied aspects of the war there were a number of different stories added to the "People's War" archive. As well as being an evacuee, Tom had witnessed a plane crash that took place at Whitehaven on 14 October 1943, with all the crew being lost. The house where Tom was staying was only a few hundred yards from where the plane crash happened. Tom's father, Tom Coyne (Snr) and future father-in-law, Robert Atkinson, were both Merchant Seamen who lost their lives as a result of enemy action.

One thing Tom had wanted to do for a time was to visit the grave of Mr and Mrs Finnegan, who had taken in Tom and his elder brother Bob during the war years. Eventually, I was able to find out from relatives of Mr and Mrs Finnegan where they were buried in Whitehaven Cemetery. At the beginning of October 2007 Tom came over to Whitehaven for a short visit with his family, take in the sights and finally visit the place where Mr and Mrs Finnegan were buried.

On this occasion Tom also told his wartime story to the West Cumbrian weekly newspaper 'The Whitehaven News'. This visit back to Tom's 'second home' proved to be his final voyage. A few days after returning home to South Shields Tom took ill, was taken into hospital and sadly passed away. Tom never got to see the printed article he gave to 'The Whitehaven News', nor the photographs taken by the newspaper photographer. At the request of Tom's family his story, as told to reporter Margaret Crosby, was printed as he would have wanted. It is a fine tribute to a real gentleman.

Link to Tom Coyne's final story as told to Margaret Crosby of 'The Whitehaven News' in October 2007:

Tom will be sadly missed by many, and particularly by his dear wife Diane and the rest of his immediate family. May you rest in peace, Tom.

Sunday, 28 October, 2007  

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