Tributes have been paid to a Korean War veteran who was instrumental in setting up Armed Forces Day celebrations in the Potteries.
Major Gordon Beddow, of Seabridge, died on Tuesday, March 24.
The father-of-three, who was put through officer training after joining the army for his National Service, was active in setting up the REME Association, and in founding the annual Armed Forces Day celebration which takes place at Queens Park in Longton.
Major Beddow’s son Mark, aged 64, said: “My dad was a smashing bloke. He had a great sense of humour and was very generous.
“He looked after my mum extremely well and he looked after us extremely well.”
Major Beddow was born in 1930 and married his wife Jean, now aged 90, in 1952. The couple had three children, Mark and his sisters Carol, aged 63, and Vicky, aged 61.
He had never intended to join the army – other than to complete his national service – but was ‘talent spotted’ during training with the Royal Engineers and ended up being attached to the Parachute Regiment to work on special operations.
Mark said: “When dad finished school at 14, he wanted to be a doctor, but he overheard his parents speaking about it and he wasn’t going to subject them to the financial pressure of having to try to find the money for his education.
“So he took a railway engineering apprenticeship. He started in 1946 when he was 16 – which meant he was late starting his national service.
“In the meantime he joined the Auxiliary Air Force and was doing pilot training. He was doing extremely well, but the rules were changed with the air force moving to jets and he failed the eye test.
“He burned all his books and equipment and said he was just going to do his national service for a couple of years, keep his nose clean and then get on with his life – but that’s not the way it turned out.”
Instead he was picked out by non-commissioned officers leading the training and sent to Chester to complete an officer training course, graduating as a second lieutenant.
“He went to Korea where he was attached to the Parachute Regiment,” said Mark.
“He was on special operations in Korea. They were trying to capture Russian equipment intact. He did that in Korea and then a very similar thing in Egypt where he was in the desert on special operations.
“Although he was a new officer, he was upgraded to temporary captain so he had sufficient clout to give orders on what he was doing.”
After leaving the army, Major Beddow joined the Territorial Army and commanded the unit at Bucknall, as well as other units at Liverpool, Telford and South Wales.
Away from the military, he worked for the National Coal Board and then Michelin – and was part of a small team which opened a tyre factory in Nigeria.
But he never forgot his time in the military and was instrumental in founding the annual Armed Forces Day celebrations in Stoke-on-Trent.
Councillor Lilian Dodd, secretary of the North Staffs Armed Forces and Veterans Committee, said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to Major Beddow for setting up the committee.
“If it was not for Major Beddow, we would not have our annual Armed Forces Day celebration event in Queens Park, Longton.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the need for social distancing, Major Beddows’s funeral will be very small, with just family members present. But it is hoped a memorial will take place at a later date.