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Tributes are paid to Bradley memorial campaigner
Tributes have been paid to a “true inspiration” and former RAF mechanic who won a medal for his campaign for a memorial to seven Polish airmen killed when their plane crashed by the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.
His greatest achievement was the successful campaign to get a memorial erected to the Polish airmen who died when their Wellington bomber crashed by the canal on September 23, 1943.
For their efforts, the two men were given the Polish Pro Memoria award, instituted in 2005 to mark 60 years since the end of the Second World War.
Following his friend’s death, Mr Whitaker, said: “Without doubt I could never have done what we did together, to erect the memorial at Bradley, on my own. He really was a true inspiration with a mountain of energy and enthusiasm. The Polish memorial is not just a memorial to those seven airmen who died there but, to me at least, a lasting memory to a super man and true friend who I had so much admiration for.”
Born in Skipton, Mr Hartley was educated at the Parish Church School in Brougham Street and at college in Keighley before taking up a joinery apprenticeship at Merritt and Fryers.
At 21, Mr Hartley went into the RAF and trained as an air-frame mechanic, serving in Hong Kong for three years.
When he returned home, he found that his father had set up a haulage business, Harry Hartley Haulage, which at its height had eight lorries operating out of Skipton Rock Quarry.
Mr Hartley joined the firm and it was while he was a driver that he met his wife on a blind date. The couple married in 1959.
He ran the business after his father died, but later sold up. He went to work for Hargreaves Quarry – and later Tilcon – and retired in 1996.
His widow, Kathleen said: “He often walked along the canal bank and had an eerie feeling when he passed the crash site and felt something should be done to remember the men. He will be sadly missed by everyone. I am only just beginning to realise what of lot of good he did.”
Representatives of the Polish community in the Bradford district are expected to attend a celebration and thanksgiving at Holy Trinity Church, Skipton, tomorrow at 12.15pm.