Bernard Joseph Gregory was born on 19 June 1925 at 15 Mount Street, Manchester. He was the 9th child of Samuel and Margaret Gregory. Altogether Bernard had 10 siblings. His youngest brother, Gerard, died shortly after birth. Although the family lived in Manchester Bernard had Irish connections on his mother’s side. And even though Bernard was a ‘true Brit’ he liked the idea of having Irish in his blood.
His grandparents, Thomas and Mary (nee Murphy) Lacey were from Wexford. It seems his grandfather was a boot maker and his grandmother was a milliner. They came to England about 1880 and settled in Salford. Here they made a life for themselves and in time their daughter Margaret met and married Sam Gregory.
There is very little information on Bernard’s childhood, in fact there only seems to be one photograph of him at this time. One of the schools he went to the Holy Name in Manchester. He also went to St. Augustines in York Street and Bishop Bilsborough (English Martyrs) Princes Road.
For a time when he was 13 or 14 years old he went to work in a butchers shop. Not much is known about this but he often mentioned it. Bernard had an outgoing personality yet he was quietly confident. He was a very demonstrative person and never shirked from showing affection. However, he could be easily upset but in time and over the years learned not to react so quick to something that was said or done. On the other side of that, If anyone was ever worried or in trouble Bernard would be an encourager all the way. He was always upbeat in his attitude and very positive in difficult situations.
He joined the army in his teens and took part in the landings at Normandy on D-Day, June 1944. It was 13 days before his 19th birthday. He still keeps in touch with the family he helped liberate in Ver-Sur-Mer.
Bernard was passionate about football and he supported Manchester City all his life. He often told how his family were divided (metaphorically speaking of course, on a Saturday after the matches) because his dad and some brothers were Manchester United fans, but Bernard (along with other brothers) remained a ‘true blue’.
While in the Royal Engineers he played football for Platoon/company/regiment.
Representative 11 vs R.A.F. Scotland.
Army Select 11 Malta ( See article and Photograph in The Sunday Times, Malta. 1946)
Combined Services 11 Malta - Guest player for German P.O.W.'s, Malta
L.Fs for Platoon/ company/ regiment
In civvies he played for the Holy Name School/ Radcliffe Borough, Bury/ Derby / Celtic
Manchester Corporation Select v Glasgow 1947. In Ireland he played for BTEK / Baldoyle / Crumlin Utd / Shelbourne
In November 2004 Bernard was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. He had his first chemotherapy on 23rd December 2004. His treatment continued into 2005 with radiotherapy and finished in August. It was a long and difficult time during which Bernard was extremely tired. Complications set in from various medications and Bernard was never the same. His health deteriorated, despite all the treatment and by October he was very weak. The district nurse suggested Bernard go into Harold's Cross Hospice for rest. He went in on 7th November, still thinking he might get better. However, 2 and a half weeks later Bernard died at 9.35 am on 24th November 2005. He lost his battle with cancer, but true to form, he never gave up fighting. On Monday 21st November when Eileen and Tony visited him he said he was not ready to throw in the towel. However, the next day Bernard slipped into a deep sleep from which he never came out of. Tony and Eileen, Sean, Carol, Denise, Terence, Bernie and Matt were all with him for two days and nights. And most were with him to the very end.
Bernard's funeral was very special. He was buried in his favourite shirt (fawn) and brown trousers, with his regimental tie of gold and red. He also wore a new fawn fleece jacket which Denise had bought him for a Christmas present. A small stone from Normandy Beach in Ver Sur Mer, in the shape of a heart was placed on his own heart along with his wedding photo with Jane. His four grandsons, Anthony, Vincent, Gerard and Jonathan together with Sean and Tony carried Bernard's coffin into the church. His coffin was full of red and white flowers representing the George Cross of England, which he was so proud of. The Choir at St. Audeon Church sang 'How Great Thou Art and 'Abide with Me' beautifully, along with other hymns throughout the Mass. Readers at the Mass were Anthony, Ruth, Emma, Jane and Gerard. Vincent placed his grandad's Manchester City jersey on the coffin which the lads had bought him for his 80th Birthday. It had 'Gregory' 80 on the back. His war medals were also placed on the coffin. Eileen read a passage of scripture, Romans 14 vs. 7 - 12. Finally Terence gave a wonderful testimony to Bernard and many a tear was shed at that moment. The final Hymn sung on Bernard's departure was 'Battle Hymn of the Republic'. Bernard was laid to rest in Newlands Cross Cemetery, Tallaght. Eight members of his family from Manchester attended his funeral. which included his only surviving sister Mary Stone and her daughter Mary Murphy. Teresa and Kevin Jewell, Suzanne and Ben Bennett and Joe and Tom Gregory. His niece Margaret Parfitt was ill in hospital and very upset that she was unable to attend Bernards funeral.
So much more could be written about Bernard, and perhaps in time a clearer and fuller picture will be emerge. In the meantime he is still remembered but very much missed by all who knew him – family and friends alike. He was a great person, a loving husband, a terrific dad and fantastic grandfather and great-grandfather.