Whalley centenarian and war hero publishes 100 copies of his book for charity

Whalley RAF veteran and artist Donald Barnes celebrated his 100th birthday in June last year and to mark the occasion he reprinted 100 copies of his book, "Oh No, Not Another".

Whilst it wasn’t possible for Donald to have a party, due to the government guidelines, he still enjoyed a socially-distanced celebration on his drive way with the Clitheroe Town Crier Roland Hailwood in attendance.

Donald still leads an active life attending Elevenses coffee mornings and computer classes and is also president of Blackburn Artists’ Society, where he has been a member for more than 50 years.

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The book, which was first published in 2007, has been updated and reprinted to cover the years up to 2020, recounting his travels, but mainly his five-and-a-half years as a wartime wireless operator in the RAF.

The book is packed with a variety of interesting experiences

During those times he experienced some remarkable happenings and some incredible million-to-one coincidences. These include when he served on the same 241 Army Co-operation Squadron as (later controversial 1960s MP John Profumo), but they lost touch in the torch invasion of North Africa. It was many months later when Donald was “thumbing” a lift on the road to Tunis that a large staff car bearing a three-star pennant on the radiator, pulled up for him. Inside was John Profumo! The 12-mile journey into Tunis ended with a handshake, a salute, a "Good luck, Sir" and that was the last they saw of each other.

Another of Donald’s remarkable coincidences was when he was in signals contact with another airfield 40 or 50 miles away in the middle of Tunisia. He discovered using his expert knowledge of Morse code that the operator he was in contact with was the boy who had sat next to him at school in Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Blackburn! Another million to one coincidence! There are many more within the book. On demobilisation Donald returned to the renamed Crown Paints in Darwen as advertising manager, but took early retirement at 61 in 1981.

Donald’s wife of 64 years, Ida, died in 2006 after a long battle with dementia and Alzheimer’s. So, after 10 years without a break he decided to take a holiday on a cruise. It was there that he met a Finnish lady who lived in Stockholm, Sweden. With many common interests they have now been in touch for 12 years! In this time they have travelled on more than 36 holidays

together, but sadly all travelling has now come to an abrupt stop and they are each marooned in their own homes, with only a phone call each evening.

Donald has kindly decided to donate £2.50 to the East Lancashire Hospice for each copy of the book sold. If you wish to purchase a copy the price is £9.50, plus postage and packaging and is available via the hospice website at https://eastlancshospice.org.uk/oh-no-not-another-by-donald-barnes