Tributes paid to hero soldier Eric

Eric Whiteside, former Mereside butcher
Eric Whiteside, former Mereside butcher
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Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a Blackpool man who fought in the Second World War and returned to become a long-serving butcher in the resort.

Eric Whiteside fought in Egypt from 1940 to 1945 before returning to set up business as a butcher in Mereside for more than 45 years.

Eric Whiteside in Africa

Eric Whiteside in Africa

He died on New Year’s Day, aged 95.

Grandson Paul Whatcott paid tribute to Mr Whiteside, revealing his extraordinary story.

He said: “He started off doing his apprenticeship at the former Yates site in Blackpool – the building which burned down a few years ago.

“He started learning his trade there, but was soon asked to go off to war.

“While in training at Catterick in North Yorkshire in 1939, his brother, Kenneth, drowned off the Fylde coast and he actually went AWOL to attend his funeral.

“He returned to the Army and went to Africa to fight as a tank driver but was captured and taken to a prisoner of war camp in Germany in 1945.

“He escaped from there and was looked after by a German farmer and his family before the Russian Army arrived, signalling the end of the war and his return to the UK.

“He married his wife Dolly in 1946 before opening a butcher’s in Langdale Place in Mereside from 1955 to 1991.”

Dolly died in 1996.

Mr Whiteside leaves a sister, Audrey, two children, three grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

His funeral will take place at Lytham Crematorium from noon on January 19.