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Harry King enjoys his retirement after a lifetime’s service

For 12 years Harry King’s life revolved around his work as a local councillor.

As the Conservative member for Rossall Ward his tireless efforts were legend. A former Deputy Mayor of Wyre Borough, he was chairman of the Planning and Transport Committee.

But in May, Harry was defeated at the polls and life’s path took another turn. From his home on the Larkholme Estate, Harry, who is now 77, said, “I was a little disappointed to lose my seat, but to some extent it had to come sometime.

“I was in fact very hesitant about standing again, primarily because of my age. I sent a letter to my constituents before the election asking if they wanted me to stand. But the reply was they wanted me to continue,” he explained.

“In a way it was maybe the right outcome at the right time for me. I would not wish to serve on a Labour controlled council.”

Harry is busy clearing out his study, an accumulation of 12 years’ council work.

“I’ve more time at home, although I’m still doing the odd lecture and am still involved with Save our Bay,” he added.

It was back in 1973 that Harry and his wife Dorothy moved to Fleetwood after a lifetime’s service in the Royal Air Force.

His career spanned half a century and covered periods in the police force, the RAF and then local government.

Born in Oldham, his first job was with an insurance company but later he was selected as one of two cadets enlisted by the local police force.

“There was no training, I went into the office, having been taught shorthand and typing.”

He later transferred to the regular force and became personal secretary to the Chief Constable of Oldham.

“But it was 1941 – there was a war going on and I was missing it,” he said.

Refused permission to apply to join the RAF, Harry waited until his boss was away and managed to get the chief constable’s deputy to sign the release forms.

“When the chief returned I had already enlisted,” he added.

As a young airman Harry began his wartime service which was to lead to a forces’ career which took him around the world and lasted over 40 years.

From Pilot Officer, Squadron Leader, Wing Commander to Group Captain – from navigator, lecturer, military law specialist, Harry encompassed them all. And for good measure was involved in secret work – and organising concert parties!

After the war he was admitted to Grays Inn and after passing the exams became involved in court martials.

He defended around 100 cases (RAF and Army) of offences varying from absent without leave to manslaughter and rape.

He managed to combine his legal work with his flying career and in 1954 was given his own command in Scotland at a training school for navigators.

In 1955 he was transferred to Transport Command as personal staff officer to the C-in-C.

“That was a marvellous 3 years, we took the first Comet around the world,” he said.

As a wing commander he was promoted to head a unit dealing with service discipline, and was awarded the OBE for his work at the Ministry of Defence.

The 1960s saw him as Chief of Air Transport, working with NATO.

He finally retired in 1983 after spending the last 10 years on security work for the Ministry of Defence.

Harry and his wife settled in Fleetwood after living in about 20 different homes since their wartime wedding. The couple have a son and two grandsons.

And Harry is looking to the future; the family were proud to learn that their elder grandson Douglas has been accepted for Merton College, Oxford to read mathematics.

Away from the world of politics Harry admits he is enjoying retirement.

It’s a retirement he richly deserves – at the end of a life of service both to his country and to Fleetwood and Wyre in particular.

First published in Life in Fleetwood issue 38, autumn 1995.

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