THE war did not end for every combatant in 1918. Milnthorpe’s last serviceman to come home was Henry Atkinson, who did not return until Christmas 1920, having served for six years in India and Mesopotamia (Iraq).

Henry was also the last of Milnthorpe’s First World War veterans to die – in June, 1985, a week after his 90th birthday.

He never forgot his homecoming, which occurred at dead of night.

Totally alone he walked the mile or so from Milnthorpe Station to the village. As he was coming down the Main Street hill he discerned by the feeble light of the gas lamps a white object on the edge of The Green, which he’d never seen before.

When he got nearer he realised it was the Portland Stone War Memorial, which had been unveiled in September, 1919.

Then, in a scene worthy of a romantic war film, he stooped down and by the light of a match he picked out the 21 names of Milnthorpe lads who would not be around to welcome him home.

This, he admitted, ‘fairly made me want to cry’.

The next night, having slept all day, he went across the road from his family’s shoe shop into the Royal Oak pub – where for several minutes no one recognised him.

And then everyone wanted to buy him a drink!