Wisbech war heroes to be remembered

PUBLISHED: 11:26 19 August 2008 | UPDATED: 08:36 02 June 2010

Thomas – the first of the four brothers to die in action in June 1940

Thomas – the first of the four brothers to die in action in June 1940

IT was a sorrow which touched many families during the Second World War but a single Wisbech family paid the price four times over. Four brothers from the Bruce family died and after a campaign by their remaining relatives lasting several years they look

Arthur died in Normandy in July 1944, just weeks before his brother, Reginald.

IT was a sorrow which touched many families during the Second World War but a single Wisbech family paid the price four times over.

Four brothers from the Bruce family died and after a campaign by their remaining relatives lasting several years they look set to be honoured by the town they never returned to.

Their names do appear on the war memorial in Wisbech but Fenland District Council is planning to name a suitable new development in the town after the brothers.

Thomas, Arthur, Reginald and George all perished in some of the bloodiest campaigns of the war. The brothers, whose parents were George and Ada Bruce, came from a large family of eight sons and two daughters.

Reginald was the last to die in Normandy in August 1944.

George Bruce was a chimney sweep and the family lived in a tiny house in Russell Street, Wisbech. The family came from a humble but honest background.

Descendants of the Bruce family still live in the town. Colin Malkin, who lives in West Parade, is the son of Martha Ellen Malkin (nee Bruce), sister to the Bruce brothers. He began his campaign after realising that new developments in Wisbech were being named after more recent conflicts such as the Falklands War and thought his uncles deserved a similar honour.

Mr Malkin can remember his uncles and also the dramatic effect the news had on their mother, his grandmother, Ada. He believes an honour for the family is long overdue.

Mr Malkin said: "She never got over the shock. To lose one son was terrible, but to lose four was almost more than she could bear. It changed her life and she was never the same again."

Thomas was the first to die at Dunkirk on June 1 1940 and two year's later George drowned at Alexander in the Antarctic. Arthur and Reginald both died within weeks of each other at Caen, Normandy. All four of the brothers left widows.

Last summer the sacrifice of the Bruce family was remembered at a family reunion in Crimplesham near Downham Market in Norfolk. Mr Malkin has also made the journey to France to visit the graves of the Bruce brothers.

Fenland District Council considered the idea of naming one of the new developments on the water front after the brothers but because the scheme has been mothballed it is now waiting to identify a suitable development.


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