Tributes paid to modest Colne man Joe

MODEST MAN: Joe Eccles (S)
MODEST MAN: Joe Eccles (S)

A modest family man from Pendle, who was born during the First World War, has died, aged 97.

Joe Eccles was the last of four brothers, all of who were born and raised in Colne, and all of who served in uniform during the Second World War.

During his six-and-a-half years in active service he spent time in North Africa, Palestine, Sicily and Italy.

The youngest of five children of James and Elizabeth Eccles, Joe was also a staunch member of Colne Orpheus, who enjoyed spending time in The Crown Hotel.

He leaves a son, daughter, three grandchildren, eight grandchildren, and nine nieces and nephews.

His funeral took place at Sacred Heart Church, and was followed by a committal at Skipton Crematorium.

Paying tribute, Joe’s niece Linda Bradshaw, who now lives in Nelson, said: “He was a special man and he will hold a special place in all our hearts forever.”

Joe started his career at 14 as an assistant to a pawnbroker in Barrowford.

It was a job that Joe found especially difficult, since it was at the height of the Depression when men would queue daily for casual labour — usually to be left disappointed.

Joe found himself having to take money from the men’s wives, who were pawning their Sunday best suit.

The former Sacred Heart School pupil, who married Olive Maxwell in 1945, later found a job herding livestock from farms to the Coop abattoirs in Stanley Street.

By the age of 16 he was an apprentice in the butchery department, and the skills he learnt from this job soon served him well in the war.

During his time as a rifleman Joe was wounded and hospitalised three times, and three times returned to action.

He never collected his medals at the end of the war, choosing instead to put the war behind him and return to his life in Colne.

When he was in his late forties, Joe decided to retrain as a meat inspector, and he worked for the local authority at Borthwicks until his retirement in 1983.