Joseph Eric Whitehead, known as Eric, was born February 7th 1909 in St Helens along with his twin sister Ena. He was the son of Harry Whitehead and Edith (Morris) Whitehead.
By April 2nd 1911, Harry and Edith were living in their own household in St Helens. Harry was working as a railway inspector. Their only children were the two-year-old twins, Edith Hannah ("Ena") and Joseph Eric.
According to Eric, Edith was always "the sickly one". She died in 1915 at the age of five, of bronchial pneumonia.
During the First World War, Harry was in the 3rd Battalion of the King's Own, Royal Lancaster, Regiment. Edith spent some time in Folkestone during the war, and she had to shelter in the white tunnels in the chalk cliffs there during air raids. Their daughter May (born in 1914) retained the memory of the white tunnels as one of her early memories. Arthur Harry ("Artie"), the fourth and last child of the family, was born in 1917 in Blackpool. He had some kind of disability in one foot, but it can't have been too severe as he managed to join the army during the Second World War.
Harry died in 1927 at 5, Addison Crescent, Blackpool. By this time he was no longer a railway inspector, but had been working as a window cleaner.
Finding herself widowed with a young family and no money, Edie rolled up her sleeves, and kept the family together by sheer hard graft. A relative described her as having a wonderful strong personality with a great sense of humour, and the focus of the family. She had beautiful blue eyes, and black hair that went snowy white with age.
May was married in 1935, and after her marriage she and her husband lived next door to Edith and Artie, in Leys Road, Blackpool.
During WWII, Eric and his mother lived with Mag at 8 Holyoake Street, Droylsden. The house would have been crowded by modern standards, as it was only a modest two up two down and was housing two families. It was typical of the area at the time. There was no bathroom or kitchen, though there was a scullery and a black-leaded device in the fireplace to cook on; baths were in a moveable zinc bath in front of the fire, on Fridays.
Eric was a shopkeeper in adult life.
Eric married twice. His first marriage (in 1932) ended in divorce; his second marriage was to Enid Nelmes, a shop manager, in 1939 in Blackpool in a registrar-attended ceremony.
During the Second World War, Eric served as an engineer in the RAF. At one point, he was stationed near home at Squire's Gate Aerodrome. He was very fond of sport, and was described by a relative as having a lovely personality.
Eric's mother died in 1967 in Blackpool, aged 81.
Enid died September 18th 1972 in Blackpool. She was only 57. Eric died December 28th 1983 in Blackpool.
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