Tributes paid to keen sportsman

PUBLISHED: 12:28 02 May 2008 | UPDATED: 10:37 17 June 2010

FAMILY and friends have paid tribute to a popular ex-firefighter, county cricket star and family man who lived in Sidmouth for 75 years - and witnessed the Hiroshima bomb.

FAMILY and friends have paid tribute to a popular ex-firefighter, county cricket star and family man who lived in Sidmouth for 75 years - and witnessed the Hiroshima bomb.

Godfrey Whittington, of Manstone Avenue, who died aged 83, moved with his family from Wales to Sidmouth when he was eight years old.

He joined the Royal Navy in 1942 aged just 17 and served on the brand-new pride of the fleet the HMS Howe - a King George V-class battleship - as a stoker, working in the tremendous heat of the boiler rooms.

In 1942 he was decorated by the Russian Navy for helping protect vital convoys to Arch angel, from U-boats.

The HMS Howe, in 1943, was assigned to protect Malta from attack, before joining the British Pacific Fleet in June 1944.

The ship was part of a cordon around Japan in the last days of the war during the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings to pick up survivors - the blinding flash of light could be seen hundreds of miles away.

He married his childhood sweetheart Moira in 1947 - their fathers worked in the coal mines in Pontypool - and they lived with his parents in Milford Avenue before moving to Manstone Avenue.

They celebrated their diamond anniversary last September.

A keen sportsman, Godfrey played rugby for Devon and Sidmouth - and was captain for the latter for five years - and cricket for Devon against Surrey in 1948.

An active member of the community, he joined Sidmouth's retained fire service in 1960 and was promoted to leading firefighter in 1968 - a position he held until his retirement in 1979.

He joined Sidmouth Urban District Council in 1971 before working for EDDC 1989 until he retired.

And he had a lot of interests; he was vice-chairman of the Burma Star Association, a member of the Royal British Legion Committee, and a life-long member of the Conservative party.

His retirement gave him the chance to indulge his love of snooker, and to spend more time with Moira and his grandchildren.

His daughter Jane said: "He was the best dad and a loving and beloved husband.

"The grandchildren and great grandchildren are devastated - they all have fond memories of him.

"He had a great life and they made the most of their retirement together."

The funeral service is on Wednesday, and the rugby club is holding the wake in tribute to their former captain.

She added: "Thank you to Dr Dell, and all the district nurses for their support."

He leaves his wife Moira, two daughters, Yvonne and Jane, four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

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