Second World War hero reaches 100th birthday

Percy Mennear
Percy Mennear

A Second World War veteran whose amazing bravery is highlighted in a book has celebrated reaching a centenary of his life.

Percy Mennear was born in Easington Lane in October 1917, before going to the area’s Brick Garth School.

Left to right:  Percy Mennear; Wen, partner of Peter Dodd; wife Charlotte;  Peter Dodd, Charlotte's  cousin from Canada

Left to right: Percy Mennear; Wen, partner of Peter Dodd; wife Charlotte; Peter Dodd, Charlotte's cousin from Canada

He left the school aged 14 and began working as a learner mechanic with the Northern Bus Company at their Sunderland and Chester-le-Street depots.

Percy was then called up to service in the war in 1940, serving in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers where he reached the rank of lance corporal.

During his time in the Forces he fought overseas in Gibraltar, South Africa, the Suez Canal in Egypt and Tobruk, in Libya.

Percy even volunteered to be part of a brave seven-man crew who sailed a small craft around islands in the Agean Sea on undercover missions as they transported and collected British secret agents to and from behind enemy lines in the process.

The bravery of Percy and his comrades is detailed in the book The Undercover Sailors: Secret Operations of World War Two, by A Cecil Hampshire which was published in 1981.

Following his demob from the Army, Percy, well-known as an excellent diesel mechanic in his working days, married the love of his live Charlotte Robinson in 1950 and the pair remain happy after 67 years together.

Percy, who now lives in South Hetton, celebrated his 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends, while also proudly showing off his birthday card from Her Majesty the Queen.

Percy’s nephew Maurice Howie, 73, who lives in Middleton St George, Darlington, said: “He’s had a brilliant day with lots of family and friends coming to visit.

“His wife’s cousin Peter Dodd even called from Canada to speak to him.

“I posted something in the South Hetton Past and Present Facebook group and a lot of people from the village have wished him well, which is very nice of them.”