A Falklands War hero from Moston who saved wounded comrades in battle committed suicide after losing a tragic last fight to cope with the untimely death of his wife.
Colour Sergeant Stephen Bardsley, 57, placed the last love letter ever written to him by childhood sweetheart Margaret on his bed before hanging himself.
He was found dead by a family friend alongside Margaret’s note, which read: “I just wanted you to know I love you all the world and more. I can’t wait to go away this weekend with you.”
Mr Bardsley, who had been decorated by the Queen for his bravery, was a retired paratrooper who fought at Goose Green and served under posthumous Victoria Cross winner Lt Colonel Herbert ‘H’ Jones.
Police who investigated the tragedy last June discovered Mr Bardsley had sent a series of texts, one of which read: “I am a machine that won’t or cannot be broken until I decide to turn it off.” “His first grand child was born just a few days after he died.
An inquest was told Mr Bardsley served with the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment and in 1982 was embroiled in the deadly battle for Goose Green during the Falklands conflict.
Ten of his comrades were killed in the fighting but despite being forced to retreat by Argentinian soldiers he dodged gunfire and risked his own life to rescue an eleventh as he lay wounded on the battlefield.
He later received a Military Medal awarded to personnel for bravery in battle on land. He was subsequently awarded the United States Bronze Star Medal in 1993 for ‘exceptionally meritorious achievements’ in helping coalition forces during the first Gulf War in 1991.
He then won a British Empire Medal before leaving the forces in 2001, when he ran a gym in his native Manchester and became a champion bodybuilder.
He kept his medals in a bedroom drawer at home and later sold then in 2012 for £118,000. The hearing was told Mr Bardsley was married for 33 years to Margaret after they met when they were both ten years old and had three children together.
But his life began to crumble when Margaret was diagnosed with a brain tumour and died last December aged 56.
Eldest daughter, Catherine Disbury, 32, a teacher told the hearing how Mr Bardsley became full time carer for his wife but her illness came as a ‘terrible blow’ and the former soldier began to drink heavily and tell his family ‘when your mum goes, I will follow’.
He started taking pills and drinking and kept saying he did not want to be alive and he wanted to be with their mother.
He even stopped taking medication for an existing heart condition with the hope that he would have a heart attack.
Miss Disbury said: ”I was seriously worried about his well-being. It was clear from his behaviour he was not in a good place and was angry. He was talking about the Falklands. I think it was the anniversary of the Falklands or of Green Goose.”
In a statement she said her father had told her he had buried 10 men on the day of the battle and was ‘very upset when he said it’.
She added: “He ordered some more books on the subject of the Falklands and he started to speak to his old colleagues who he had served with.
“He was very critical of people who said they had been in the army who had not seen any action. He did not have time for those people. He spoke about the Falklands quite a bit.
”Dad always had to be the best at everything but he felt that since he left the army he was a nobody.
“He was also a body builder which he was very good at but as he got older he felt he had no purpose in life. When asked his name he quoted Colour Sergeant Stephen Bardsley only to add: d ‘I used to be but now I am nobody.’ That’s pretty much what he said.
”When I was informed that he had taken his own life I was shocked but I was surprised it had taken this long after the death of my mum. He thought that now my sisters and I had grown up and my mum had gone nobody needed him. It was not obviously how we felt.”
Story via Cavendish Press.