Ernie Sedgwick Obituary, Death – Ernie Sedgwick hid in the Dunkirk dunes for two nights and three days before being evacuated over the Channel in a small fishing boat. Mike, his son, said that his father had complained for weeks that he smelled like fish. When he returned to Darlington, his mother had him strip naked outside before bringing him inside, where she cleaned him with a bar of carbolic soap and a tin bath filled with hot water from a kettle kept on the stove. Ernie, who lived to be 101, has passed away.
He was one of Darlington’s last World War II soldiers and the final Arnhem survivor, having parachuted into Holland to secure bridges and survived nine days of nearly continuous carnage. His grandson Theo spoke at his burial last week about how popular his grandfather was at the local schools, where the kids would stare in wonder and ask if he had ever shot anyone. A somber “I did, and by doing so I saved hundreds of lives,” was his standard response. As the initial shock subsided, he’d answer the next logical inquiry with, “It was an English Army cook!”
In 1916, when his father found work in the North Road railway workshops in Darlington, his incredible life truly began when his Irish parents fled the Easter Rising in Dublin and settled in the Thompson Street West neighborhood. Ernie was born on August 30, 1921, and when he passed the 11-plus test, he worked as a delivery boy for a butcher because his family couldn’t afford to send him to the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School. He lied about his age to join the Durham Light Infantry’s reserve force, saying he was only 16.