Tom Barnett uncovers incredible WWII connection in ‘lockdown project’

Published by Daniel Robertson on 30 June 2020

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The ‘lockdown’ situation over the last few months has led to many taking up new hobbies and interests.

When not looking after his clients or spending time with his young family, Chartered Financial Planner and Director of Kreston Reeves Financial Planning, Tom Barnett has been keeping himself occupied by conducting a family research project.

He had heard stories, but the project revealed the true story of his grandfathers’ World War II ordeal and an amazing connection to a colleague which has been published in Citywire’s New Model Adviser magazine.

Tom discovered that at the start of the war, before conscription, his grandfather, Donald Hermitage, volunteered for service and joined the Royal East Kent Regiment, nicknamed The Buffs.

His assumption had always been that he had landed in France at Dunkirk, but in fact his service number revealed that he actually landed 195 miles south, at the port of Le Havre. Due to being surrounded and outgunned he was eventually captured and forced to march 900 miles through Europe to Malbork in Poland where unbeknown to his family who assumed him dead, he spent the remainder of the conflict in prisoner of war camps, farming in the summer months and cutting ice in the winter.

Most incredibly, during his research he came across another entry named ‘Hilton’ who it emerged was fellow adviser Guy Hilton’s grandad. Both family members had served in The Buffs, travelling together in the same boat and fighting in the same area at the same time.

The process has allowed Tom to connect with his grandfather once more and as a result he encourages others to conduct their own research and they may find some surprising results.

The full article was published in Citywire – New Model Adviser.

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