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Former daily news editor and WW2 tank commander dies aged 97

Geoff HarmerA former regional daily news editor who also served as a World War 2 tank commander has died aged 97.

Tributes have been paid to Geoff Harmer, left, who ran the Swindon advertiser’s newsdesk for almost 18 years.

Geoff spent a total of 37 years with the Advertiser, and had also worked at his hometown newspaper the Stroud Journal.

He worked at the Journal as an apprentice until the Second World War broke out, when he joined the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars.

Geoff served in North Africa but was taken prisoner by the Italians, and was later sheltered by an Italian family after the country changed sides during the conflict.

He was eventually recaptured by the Germans he spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war.

Joining the Advertiser in 1947 after his return to the UK, he spent the remainder of his career with the paper before retiring in 1984.

In the latter years of his career there, he wrote a column and worked as a reporter.

His daughter Caroline told the Advertiser: “To hear him talk about his time in Italy it seemed like a gap year.”

Geoff was married to Madge for 67 years before she died. The couple had two daughters, Caroline and Jane, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

A celebration of his life is being held at the Speech House Hotel in Coleford, Gloucestershire, at 2.30pm today.