Lives Remembered

Stevie Short: Genial TV repair man with remarkable Second World War story

Stevie Short served in almost every major naval operation in the northern hemisphere during the Second World War

WEST Belfast man Stevie Short was a veteran of the Battle of the Atlantic, D-Day, the Allied invasion of North Africa and the Russian Convoys.

He served in almost every major naval operation of the Second World War and was urged by both the British and Russian governments to apply for extra medals for his remarkable service - invitations he refused.

His war stories were kept light hearted and he rarely discussed the fear he experienced or the friends he lost.

There was the time he was dumbfounded at seeing cans of beer for the first time in Iceland when meeting up with US naval counterparts; buying a parrot when he was sent to Freetown in what is now Sierra Leone and bringing it back to Belfast;or having to be hastily evacuated from a British military outpost in India that had been surrounded by protesters when the Indian Navy mutinied in 1946.

When the war ended it took 20 years to battle his demons and become the genial shop owner from the Whiterock who was best known for fixing televisions and his devotion to his wife Anne and five children.

Stephen Peter Short was born in 1923 in a house on Broadway and was a pupil at St Paul’s and the newly built St Kevin’s primary schools, where he was goalkeeper in a team that included future Celtic legend Charlie Tully.

At the age of 16 he quit his job in the mill at the bottom of his street to join the Merchant Navy. He was turned away because of his age but told the Royal Navy would take him as a boy sailor.

Knowing his republican father would refuse to sign his forms he persuaded a neighbour to forge his signature.

Stevie was trained in morse code and his class split in two - his group was sent to the European theatre and the other to the Far East.

The latter’s ship was to be lost within months with no survivors, a memory that never left him.

After the war he transferred to the Merchant Navy before returning to work in electronics in Belfast.

He opened a TV repair shop on the Whiterock Road before moving to Dunville Avenue and finally Conway Mill.

In the early days of the Troubles he became involved in the defence of the area and was known to be a staunch republican.

Searches of his home on Brittons Drive would often become protracted affairs as soldiers were confronted with a maze of electrical wiring.

Stevie married Anne McReynolds from the Lower Ormeau in 1947 and for many years combined work with caring for her, as she suffered several illnesses in the last decades of her life.

She died in 2012 but he used the internet to forge new friendships, contacts that saw him cross the seas again as he visited England and Scotland regularly as well as the US.

He also kept his morse codes skills up, tapping out the alphabet on bus seats while travelling around Belfast until he was struck down with dementia.

Stevie Short died aged 82 on November 27. He is survived and sadly missed by his sisters Ann Redmond (Canada), Mary Kennedy (Belfast) and Sister Mary Thomas (Australia), children Stephen, Stanley, LillIan, Peter and Sharon, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchild.

 

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access

Lives Remembered