Stoker 1st Class
Joseph (Joe) Toole
HMS Exeter was sunk in the battle of the Java Sea. Being Chief Stoker and with the ship being hit twice, once in each of the two boiler rooms, his survival was miraculous.
Joseph spent the next 3 .5 years in a prisoner of war camp and when rescued by the Australians he weight about 5.5 stone.
When Joseph returned he was active in the community in Manchester, living his whole life in the same council flat on Melland Road, Gorton, overlooking the playing fields and he coached several year groups of Sutton Boys FC before becoming a referee in the Sunday Boys League.
In his later life his wife Mary started a long slide into Alzheimer's Disease and he cared for her throughout the 6 years she suffered with it. She passed away in 1990.
He was an active member of the FEPOW organization and carried the colours on several occasion around the country.
Joe passed away 6th March at 2.30 am at the age of 91
Grandson of Joseph
What I think the moral of his story is that he thought himself the luckiest man alive, even though he had suffered great hardship for his country and given plenty to his local community. He had a razor sharp wit and a wicked humour that stayed with him into his final days. He was a regular on Gorton market where every stall owner knew him for his humour and cheerfulness. Young people would do well to hear this story and maybe they might stop decrying their lot and take a leaf out of his book and smile and laugh in the face of adversity.
My Grandfather was not an educated man, but he knew what was what and he had boundless resilience, optimism and generosity.