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Bury St Edmunds man John to celebrate centenary after long birth date mystery

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A Bury St Edmunds man can finally say he turns 100 next week after the long-running mystery of his birth date was solved.

Mieczyslaw Frackiewicz, better known as John Franklin, fled to England from Sopockinie in Poland, his birth country, after it was invaded by the Russians and Germans during World War Two.

He served in the RAF in Squadron 304, across several bases before settling in Bury St Edmunds where he has lived since 1947.

John Franklin with his daughter Linda Davies. Picture by Mecha Morton.
John Franklin with his daughter Linda Davies. Picture by Mecha Morton.

John will celebrate his centenary on November 3 - having finally resolved a long running saga over his true birth date.

His daughter Linda Davies said: “All his Polish army and RAF documents clearly state his birth date is 3rd November 1919, however, in 1947 a document ‘in lieu of birth certificate’ was sent from Elk in Poland to RAF East Wretham, which gave his birth date as 7th November 1921, which then appeared on his discharge and resettlement documents. He adopted this date in order to move on with his life.”

When John retired, he hired a Polish investigator to look into his family and try to find documentation from Sopockinie after the Polish boundaries were redrawn and his home town became part of Belarus.

Although any documentation giving his true date of birth has been destroyed, this year he contacted RAF Northolt to gain copies of his service records from the APC Polish archives.

John subsequently received a set of documents from the Polish forces and RAF, which recorded his birth date as November 3 1919.

“I have written to the royal residence,” Linda added.

“I hope that the information and evidence I have provided will result in a message from the Queen, as this acknowledgement on his 100th birthday is so important to him.”

In October 1949, John married Pamela Brewster, from Bury, who died 12 years ago.

John has lived in the same house for 61 years and owned a furniture business in Looms Lane renovating antiques.

He still drives to visit Linda every Sunday and has another daughter, Stephanie as well as three grandchildren.

“I have worked really hard all of my life,” John said.

When asked about the secret of reaching 100 years, he said: “I set up my own business and my strong catholic faith.”

He is celebrating with a party.