Bernard Vincent Gallagher, Biography

1895  -  1975
Bernard Vincent Gallagher was born 21st August 1895 at 3, West Street, West Hartlepool, County Durham, UK to Edward and Susan (nee Paul) Gallagher.  Always known by his second name, Vincent was the eleventh of sixteen children, though only thirteen survived to adulthood.  According to family lore, two of his siblings were killed in a fire at their home.  Vincent's father, Edward, was born in Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland, and his mother was born in Seaham Harbour, County Durham to Irish parents.
Very little is known of Vincent's early years until he joined the army in 1914 at age of 18.  He held the rank of Sergeant in 6th battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers when he was wounded at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 by a machine gun.  He spent 18 months in hospital in Aberdeen and his badly wounded right hand (at one stage thought there was no hope to save) was saved and partially repaired by a forward looking surgeon.  Although it was left severly impaired for the rest of his life, at least he did retain the limb! 
                                                      Bernard Vincent Gallagher (2nd from left) 1917

After discharge from hospital he taught himself to write with his left hand and worked as a clerk in a Newcastle steel factory. He married my mother Jane Ethel Wanless (1899 - 1973) on 5th July 1920 at St Aidans Catholic Church Longbentonin 1920. They had three children, Ruth, Dorothy and myself, Dennis.

Having witnessed the huge benefits of massage to hundreds of servicemen whilst in hospital in Scotland, he was determined to make this his profession and duly went London and qualified as a masseur and medical electrician (the forerunner of Physiotherapy) in 1922.  How early he was involved was shown on his final certificate which was numbered 13! 

With his new profession being slow to take off he opened up a gymnasium and began training athletes of all disciplines, but desperately frustrated at not being able to participate in most sports, he took up rifle shooting and found he was able to pull the trigger after modification to his rifle. This gave him encouragement and he continued to reach the very top of this sport, in time shooting for Ireland and for the British Isles Team subsequently serving as Captain of Ireland.  My father continued his practice right up to retiring at the age of 78 and often reflected upon the huge number of patients he had treated over the years which must have been very many thousands. He died in 1975 in Newcastle after a brief bout of pneumonia at the age of 80.

                                                                                               by Dennis Gallagher, October 2011

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