Memories of ukelele star sought for new war book

George Formby
George Formby

An author who has captured the life of George Formby in a book is hoping Fleetwood people might be able to help him with his next publication.

Andrew Atkinson is putting together ‘George Formby – The War Years’: 1939-45 Singing for Three Million Service Personnel’ and is looking for former personnel, or their families who may have memories of the ukelele star.

When war broke out, Formby entertained the British Armed Forces and gave many free concerts to raise the spirits of people during the darker days of the war.

He performed regularly in Fleetwood and managed to raise £10,000 for a Fleetwood Fund which was set up to help families of missing trawlermen.

Born in Wigan, Formby starred in the 1940 film, ‘Let George Do It!’ – boosting early-war British civilian morale.

“The film ‘Let George Do It’ became Formby’s first international release in America, under the title ‘To Hell With Hitler’.

“It was also released in Moscow in 1943, under the title ‘Dinky Do’,” said Andrew.

“The film made record box-office takings for over ten months. And it is deemed one of Formby’s best performances in an illustrious film career.”

Andrew, who hails from Preston, said: “I was inspired by George Formby’s songs as a young child - something that has stayed with me.

“George entertained three million allied servicemen and women during the Second World War - travelling throughout Europe and going to the Middle East.

“He is remembered by thousands of people, including many people from Fleetwood, where he visited many times. Formby spoke about volunteering to serve his country but failed a medical, citing flat feet.”

Andrew added: “Following that George joined the Home Guard in Blackpool as a Dispatch rider.

“Fleetwood had a significant part to play in Formby’s film career too - it being the location for the 1944 film ‘Bellbottom George’.

“I would be thrilled to hear from people of Fleetwood and district about their memoirs of the Second World War - linked to George Formby and his songs,” said Andrew.

Contact Andrew Atkinson on lancashiremedia@gmail.com