Mr Richard (Doug) Felgate
17 February 2020
In loving memory of Doug
Royal Star & Garter Resident
My Dad was a perfect gentleman, he was always polite, courteous considerate and the most loving caring and brave person I have known.
We had moved my Dad down from the Wirral to the Star and Garter (Solihull) on the 5th February 2020 to be nearer my family and I. From the moment he entered he loved it! His own private bathroom adjoined to his bedroom decorated in familiar colours. All the staff were so welcoming towards him. They even provided us with a tea party when we arrived. Nothing was too much trouble!
Dad settled very quickly and enjoyed what little time he had there. We went to see him everyday and most days we would find him sitting, reading the newspaper in the first floor lounge enjoying the sun pouring in through the big windows. Dad loved his food and enjoyed going down to the restaurant, which was like a Michelin star restaurant. Food was in abundance and if Dad didn’t fancy another three course meal he could ask for something lighter.
Although Dad was only with the Star and Garter just over a week the staff took to him very quickly and they loved having a laugh and joke with him.
Everything was perfect, until Dad developed a cough, which ended in him having to go into hospital, still putting a brave face on. The Star and Garter staff missed him and told him to get back to them quickly! Dad seem to rally round but unfortunately on the 17th February Dad lost his battle and passed away and our world fell apart, I was not expecting that in so short a time! My Husband, Tony and I, Nicola and Hannah our daughters were all by his side and were able to say our goodbyes.
Doug was a brilliant husband to Pat, a great Father-in-law to Tony, and the best ever Grandad, to Nicola and Hannah and of course a wonderful Dad.
My Dad was born in Liverpool on October 18th 1923, the younger son to parents Jessie and Harold Felgate. Although he was christened Richard Douglas, he was known as Doug, throughout his life. He grew up in Liverpool in Duddingston Avenue, although the family originated from Burton upon Trent. Dad grew up taking a liking to sport, particularly Hockey and played for the county. He made a lifelong friend when he was at senior school called Johnny Greenwood and together with twin brothers David and John had many adventures together. The twin brothers, had a motorbike, which Dad had always hankered after. He told me his Dad would never let him have one, and in those days you didn’t disobey your Father!! “I did manage to sneak a ride or two on the bike though!!!”
Dad left school at 16 and three days after went to work for Higsons Brewery. He wasn’t there long when his life suddenly changed dramatically as the War broke out. He signed up for the LDV, Home Guard, although he was under-age, but as he said “I was tall and broad for my age, so could get away with looking older”. It certainly stood me in good stead for the Army”.
He eventually got his papers to serve and was assigned to the Kings Own (Lancaster) regiment and from here his bravery began! After much training and drafting to various places, Dad ended up in Burma and was chosen with his regiment to be part of a ‘special ops’ to infiltrate Japanese lines. They were to be known as the Chindits! The object of the ‘Operation’ was to ‘live drop us into Burma behind Japanese lines”. Dad had gained a ‘stripe’ and was in charge of the animal transport. The mission was to attack the land by gliders in the clearing of the Jungle, codename BROADWAY. Dad and five others plus 3 mules were in a glider being towed by a Dakota;
“It was noisy to start with mainly due to the slipstream from the towing aircraft. When we finally arrived at our drop off spot and the pilot released the towrope everything was peaceful. The moon lit up everywhere and we, for the time being were just floating along! However, we then landed bumping along the ground and had to jump out, release the animals and dive for the perimeter. We made it in one piece, we were lucky not everyone made it, 46 were killed on landing. Some gliders crashed before reaching the drop off line, some came to grief on the drop which itself caused problems for the following gliders.” “My buddy Fred Copeland was one of the gliders that crashed and he was killed. He never spoke about his family, I would have liked to have been able to have written to them.”
After many harrowing times, extensive training in jungle warfare, poor conditions, and expeditions within Burma, the decision was taken that the Chindits should withdraw. They had successfully disrupted the Japanese transport infrastructure being the object of their ‘Operation’. The Monsoons had also started, which meant it would make the journey back arduous and longer.
“During our journey the Ghurkas presented us with buckets of Rum, which they doled out liberally. A special mention for them the force which kept us going”.
“We were under nourished when we arrived at the military hospital and were diagnosed that the bulk of us, had either Dysentery, Malaria and R&T, or quite often, all three. I weighed just under 8 stone, 3 stone less than when I entered Burma!” ‘I was diagnosed with ‘ameobic dysentry’ and was transferred to a hospital in Jansi before I could even think about travelling home.”
When VE day came Dad was still in Burma when most of the soldiers had returned home, as the Japanese refused to surrender and it wasn’t until August 15th, War was officially over for Dad.
He returned home and went back to his job in Higsons on the Wines and Spirit side. He worked his way up to Managing Director. Whilst working with Higsons he met Mum and they married in 1948 and ten years later I was born. Before I was born Mum and Dad had a lodger, Audrey, for a short time. Our families were close and when I was born Audrey became my Godmother. They were always ready to help other people.
I had a wonderful loving and secure childhood. Mum was very academic and helped me with schoolwork and Dad taught me lots of practical things, gardening, decorating. He taught me to swim, and ride my bike. I always remember he used to read me a bedtime story and lift me high on his shoulders on the way up to bed. When I was older he taught me to drive and bought me my first car, which he used to have to come and tow me home as it kept breaking down. He was very patient!!
Dad and Uncle Johnny (who became my Godfather) renewed their friendship after the war and our families grew together and became very close. There was always laughter in our house when the families got together!
One of the greatest joys for Mum and Dad, were their grandchildren, Nicola and Hannah. Although Mum and Dad were on the Wirral, and us in the Midlands, they never missed an opportunity to see the girls. They had a very close relationship and took them on holidays to Italy, and in this country, with their Caravan. They spoilt them rotten with their love and generosity. Dad really enjoyed the Van having the freedom to tour the country. He wanted to go abroad with it but Mum wasn’t quite as adventurous!
Apart from his family and Caravanning Dad loved to garden, play bowls, fencing, go swimming, theatre trips and music. He loved to go to the Everton football matches with Johnny as they had season tickets. When he retired he joined the Probus Club in West Kirby, being a Secretary for the majority of the time. He played Bowls and Snooker with them and they honoured Dad by naming a Snooker Trophy (the Felgate Cup) after him! He was well liked and this kept him occupied when Mum passed away in 2013.
We miss Dad so much, I feel honoured to have had him as a Father. He kept telling me I was always by his side, as I tried to see him every week, sometimes more in the last few years, when he had to have carers to help him. I just wish he had had more time at the Star and Garter, but it was not to be!
He was always smiling, cheerful, never complained and saw the good in everything. I have a very difficult act to follow, but I will try to follow your example Dad!
We all love you very much, and miss you heaps!