Posts Tagged ‘veteran’

Prince Harry poses with Battle of Britain veteran on 2015 Christmas card

December 23rd, 2015

During the event, a total of 33 Spitfires, Hurricanes and Bristol Blenheim bombers flew from Goodwood Aerodrome in West Sussex before dispersing across wartime airfields over the South of England.

A Kensington Palace spokesman said: “Prince Harry has chosen this photograph with Battle of Britain veteran Tom Neil for his Christmas card.

“He considered it a great honour to meet Tom during the Battle of Britain flypast in September. It was one of his most memorable moments of 2015.”

The picture was taken by the Press Association’s veteran royal photographer John Stillwell.

Harry gave up his seat to ensure veteran Tom ‘Ginger’ Neil and two wounded servicemen could still take part in the biggest gathering of Battle of Britain aircraft since the Second World War.

Around 40 Spitfires, Hurricanes and Bristol Blenheim bombers are flying in formation from Goodwood Aerodrome in West Sussex before dispersing across wartime airfields over the South of England.

The Prince was due to have a seat in one of four two-seater Spitfires taking part in the flypast. But when one of the vintage aircraft developed mechanical problems, he decided to step aside to ensure the event’s special guests would still get to fly.

His spokesman said he wanted to make sure that Mr Neil would still be able to take part. And he wanted to ensure that a former para and an RAF corporal who won places on a Spitfire scholarship training programme were also still able to take part in the display.

Tom Neil - the man Prince Harry gave his seat up for in the Battle of Britain tribute

Last week, Kensington Palace released a touching family photo of Prince William and Kate and their two children George and Princess Charlotte.

In the image they are crouching down and Kate balances her daughter on her knee while her son stands next to her – and all four smile for the photographer.

Merry Christmas from The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte

The photograph of the Duke and Duchess and their children will be used on their official Christmas card.

The card will be sent to organisations and individuals the royal couple are associated with.

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The best and worst politician Christmas cards of 2015


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Hundreds turn out for funeral of WWII veteran who had no known relatives

December 16th, 2015

• Elderly neighbours discover they both took part in the same WW2 mission

Royal British Legion standard bearers march ahead of the hearse

War veterans acted as standard bearers and led the funeral procession with the coffin of Mr. Cox draped in a Union flag.

Serving Army officers also joined the moving ceremony in Middlesborough, Teeside.

Around two hundred people from all walks of life attended the funeral service

Other mourners included police officers and ambulance workers and members of the Royal British Legion Bikers turned out.

“Rest easy soldier, your duty’s done. Goodnight and God bless.”

They all answered the call of the Royal Pioneer Corps Association who posted an appeal on the Facebook page asking for people to attend.

It was shared to veteran groups, army-related groups and other local groups in the North East and in 12 hours it was seen by over 100,000 people.

Mourners attend the funeral

Local florist Beckie McLinn saw the plea and created a 3ft coffin top arrangement for Mr Cox, who lived alone in Stockton, Co Durham.

Others laid wreaths and red flowers to mark the veteran’s war service with moving tributes attached.

• Guy Martin: my grandfather fought for the Nazis

One read: “RIP brave soldier, gone but never forgotten” and another said: “Rest easy soldier, your duty’s done. Goodnight and God bless.”

Floral tributes and messages are left at the funeral service

One bunch of red flowers said: “Rest in peace brother.”

Norman Brown, who launched the appeal for mourners, said: “He had one hell of a send-off.”


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Heartwarming moment hundreds turn out for funeral of veteran following Facebook appeal

November 10th, 2015

Nephew Tony Budgett, 51, from Stockport, feared there would only be four mourners at Mr Bryan’s funeral.

• Kind woman pays for veteran’s breakfast on Remembrance Sunday – and then a stranger covers the entire bill

But after a Facebook appeal to honour his uncle’s passing, hundreds turned out for the funeral at Stockport Crematorium today.

Old soldiers, their polished campaign medals worn proudly on their blazers, acted as standard bearers, joined by serving forces personnel and ordinary members of the public as each paid their respects, heads bowed as a bugler played the Last Post at the end of the moving service.

Hundreds turned out for the funeral following a Facebook appeal (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Mr Bryan’s surviving family have said they were “humbled” by the turnout after around 400 people crammed the chapel and crematorium.

A fire engine was present, with a poppy on its front and firemen and police officers acted as pallbearers.

Mr Bryan’s funeral is the latest in a number of services for old soldiers with little family left which has been attended by hundreds of members of the public to show their respect for veterans following online appeals.


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Prince Harry gives up Battle of Britain flypast Spitfire seat for RAF veteran

September 19th, 2015

Tom Neil - the man Prince Harry gave his seat up for in the Battle of Britain tribute

His spokesman said he wanted to make sure that 95-year-old Mr Neil, an ex-wing commander and Battle of Britain Hurricane and Spitfire pilot, would still be able to take part.

And he wanted to ensure that a former para and an RAF corporal who won places on a Spitfire scholarship training programme were also still able to take part in the display.

Security officials tell Prince to stand back and not cross runway at Goodwood Aerodrome as he inspects planes taking part in 75th anniversary flypast

Nathan Forster, a former private in the Parachute Regiment, from South Shields, Tyne and Wear, suffered severe damage to his left leg in an IED blast while on patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2011. And Corporal Alan Robinson, an RAF aircraft technician, from Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, lost a leg in a motorbike accident.

Earlier, Harry – sporting a rugged beard – was pictured with a full beard as he set off on foot to inspect the aircraft lined up by the grass runway – and was admonished within minutes.

But, as his group began to cross the runway, a security vehicle came speeding up and stopped the Prince and his group in their tracks.

He could be seen being told to stand back and not cross the runway and a few minutes later a small aircraft came in to land.

Prince Harry (second right) walks with (from left) Cpl. Alan Robinson, Nathan Forster and Matt Jones director of the Boultbee Flight Academy, past Battle of Britain aircraft at Goodwood Aerodrome

Harry was then cleared to cross and continue his inspection as rain poured down on the airfield.

The Prince was due to fly in the Spitfire PV202 piloted by John Romain, managing director of the Aircraft Restoration Company at Duxford, Cambridgeshire.

But he will no longer be flying in the display as one of the four two-seater Spitfires has suffered mechanical problems.

The aerial display will be a tribute to the Second World War pilots famously dubbed “The Few” by wartime prime minister Winston Churchill for their efforts in defeating the Luftwaffe.

The Battle of Britain, as it happened on September 15, 1940

During the summer and autumn of 1940, 544 personnel from Fighter Command died as the RAF fought in the skies above southern England to force back the threat of any invasion by Hitler.

The 75th anniversary is likely to be the last major anniversary at which the surviving members of the pivotal conflict – who are now all well into their 90s – will be fit to take part.

Mr Neil, 95, an ex-wing commander and Battle of Britain Hurricane and Spitfire pilot, will lead the formation from the rear of a two-seater Spitfire – the symbol of Britain’s fight against Nazi forces.

The event has been organised by the Boultbee Flight Academy, based in Chichester, and two of the aircraft – a Spitfire and a Hurricane – fought in the famous battle.

Prince Harry sported a birthday beard at the Battle of Britain fleet inspection

The Prince had ditched the razor during his summer working on conservation projects in Africa. And he kept his new look on his return to the UK, showing off a rugged ginger beard on Tuesday morning.

It is not the first time the fifth in line to the throne has grown a beard. Most recently he sported facial hair after his trek to the South Pole with wounded servicemen in December 2013.

Harry had shaved it off by the time he appeared at a press conference to discuss the event in January 2014, amid reports the Queen did not approve of her grandson’s “Windsor whiskers”.

The Queen did not mind royal men growing beards while they were away with the armed forces, but she expected them to be clean-shaven when they were home, it was reported.

Prince Harry pictured with a beard

The Duke of Cambridge grew a beard when he joined the Special Boat Service on a mission to Barbados in 2008. He kept it over the Christmas period and gave the public their first glimpse after a festive church service at Sandringham, Norfolk.

William and Harry followed in the footsteps of their father, the Prince of Wales, who was pictured sporting a beard at the Badminton Horse Trials in 1976.

The Duke of Edinburgh was also photographed with a well-groomed beard while on active service in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.


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British D-Day veteran to receive highest French accolade

March 16th, 2015

Troops on Juno Beach, Normandy, during the D Day landings (HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY)

Mr Turner will receive his award from Captain Francois Jean, the consul honoraire of France, on behalf of French president Francois Hollande.

He said: “This is a great honour that I wasn’t expecting. I know that I’ll be thinking of those who didn’t make it, my friends who didn’t come back from the Normandy beaches after D-Day.”

The French government informed the UK Ministry of Defence last year that it wanted to recognise the selfless acts of heroism displayed by surviving veterans of the Normandy landings.

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Mr Turner was born and brought up in Hilsea, Portsmouth, and at 17 he decided to go to the city’s recruiting office and sign up for the RAF, but he was too young. Instead he was taken on by the Royal Marines in January 1943.

He and three other colleagues manned a landing craft which was based at Itchenor, near Chichester. On June 4, 1944, they sailed across to Lee-on-Solent and came alongside a Canadian troop ship.

And on June 5, they sailed across the Channel in their landing craft as part of the invasion.

Mr Turner said: “It was very quiet, no one spoke. Then when we got close to the beach, the Germans started firing and it was pretty noisy. I was used to it, as my dad had been in charge of the firewatch in Portsmouth, so I’d heard air raids and gunfire anyway.

“I wasn’t frightened. I was only young, so it felt a bit like an adventure to me, even at that stage. We landed the Canadian engineers and their equipment on the beach and then backed off, so we could see what was going on. Some landing craft were hit and started sinking, some Canadians were being shot around us.

“We slept on the beach that night, and I remember a German plane coming over and flying very low. We were all firing at it. The next day, we started unloading all the ships by landing craft. Most of the boxes we unloaded seemed to be food.

“The next day, the Canadians dug a trench for the dead bodies and covered them over. But we saw a few bodies still floating on the tide, even a week after D-Day.”

Mr Turner will receive the award on Monday March 23.


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Kind-hearted strangers surprise WWII veteran with touching note at birthday meal

March 11th, 2015

“I did 27 years on the police department and people never cease to amaze me in bad and good ways,” his son, Robert, told Opposing Views.

He added: “My dad is my hero and this was I think more of a happy moment for me than him, seeing someone appreciate him in this way actually brought tears to my eyes.”

Mr Nieman believes the generous couple spotted his father’s black and yellow Lexington hat before taking care of the bill.

“I wheeled my dad in and sat him down as I usually do,” he explained. “I noticed one couple across from us watching … 10 minutes later they were gone.”


The USS Lexington during WWII

Bob Nieman Jr. added his father started “beaming from ear to ear” when the waiter informed them their bill had already been taken care of and showed him the message.

The WWII veteran is one of the last remaining crew members of the USS Lexington 16, whose planes destroyed hundreds of enemy aircraft during the war.

The Japanese reported the USS Lexington had been sunk four times, earning her the nickname ‘The Blue Ghost’.


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D-Day veteran Bernard Jordan dies after lifetime of duty and adventure

January 7th, 2015

Such was the respect in which he was held following his headline-generating adventures across the Channel that on his 90th birthday, a few days after his return, he received more than 2,500 cards from well-wishers around the world.

Mr Jordan died peacefully in hospital. In a statement by Gracewell Healthcare, which runs The Pines care home in Hove, East Sussex, where Mr Jordan lived, said he would be “much missed” by his wife Irene and many friends.

Amanda Scott, managing director of Gracewell Healthcare, said: “Bernie caught the world’s imagination last year when he made his ‘surprise’ trip to France and bought a huge amount of joy to a lot of people.


Bernard Jordan on the ferry with The Candy Girls

“Bernie was always insistent that what he did during the war was nothing unusual, and only what many thousands of others did for their country.

“That may well be true, but the little bit of excitement he gave everyone last June was typical of his no-nonsense attitude to life and is how he will be remembered by thousands of people.”

A month after his escapade in France, Mr Jordan was made an honorary alderman of Brighton and Hove during a reception at Brighton Town Hall.

Asked at the reception why he travelled to Normandy, Mr Jordan, former mayor of Hove who served as a councillor for 34 years, said: “My thoughts were with my mates who had been killed.

“I was going across to pay my respects. I was a bit off course but I got there.”

He added: “Britain is a smashing country and the people are smashing, and if you have to do something a bit special, then they are worth every effort.”

Bernard with his medals (GRACEWELL HEALTHCARE)

Mr Jordan did indeed do something special for his country, as his campaign medals testified.

As a 19-year-old junior officer in the Royal Navy he had been plunged into the thick of it on June 6, 1944.

His ship was one of a flotilla of 6,939 vessels assembled by commanders as part of the Allied plan to create a bridgehead to get thousands of troops and equipment into northern France, as the first step of pushing the Nazis all the way back to Berlin.

Men like Mr Jordan played a key role in that plan, providing covering fire for the thousands of troops and tanks wading ashore in the face a hail of machine gun and shell fire from the Germans dug into concrete bunkers on the cliffs above.

Mr Jordan had already taken part in the Battle of the Atlantic, which saw British ships engaged in a cat and mouse game with German U-boats in the struggle to keep vital supply routes from the United States.


Bernard Jordan surrounded by cards and gifts received for his 90th birthday (PA)

On one occasion Mr Jordan was part of a boarding party which captured one of the Enigma coding machines used by the Germans after his forced a U-boat submarine to the surface.

Mr Jordan also served in the Italian campaign, which saw British naval ships transporting and supplying the troops fighting their way up the spine of the Peninsula, as part of the Allied effort to drive the Nazis out of occupied Europe.

Brian Fitch, the mayor of Brighton and Hove, said: “He made a major contribution, but he was also just an ordinary hard-working bloke, an electrician by trade, and a lovely character. We will really miss him.”


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Gang rips medals from army veteran on his way to Remembrance Sunday service

November 11th, 2014

Mr Gill had been walking through Lund Park, Keighley, as he has done for years, at 9.15am on Sunday when the attack happened.

He was wearing his khaki beret, navy blue blazer, maroon and grey striped tie – all three of which bore the regimental badge and the motto ‘Victory Favours the Brave’, with a poppy pinned to his chest and the United Nations Cyprus and Northern Ireland medals on his right lapel.

Mr Gill only recently returned home from hospital following an operation to fit stents in his heart and he is currently on 13 tablets a day for his condition.

He said: “I was walking to the cenotaph in the centre of town for Remembrance Sunday, the same route I have taken every year for as long as I can recall.

“I’d stopped in Lund Park to look at the embers of a fire which had been lit near a sign when out of nowhere I was grabbed or hit from behind.

“My beret was knocked off my head and I stumbled to the ground. I tried to stay on my feet because I didn’t know what would happen if I went to ground.

“I had not seen the gang of about six to eight Asian lads before this and I think they had been hiding in bushes.

“I had not seen or heard them or done anything to intimidate them. They were laughing and joking and speaking in a foreign language, not in English, so I don’t know what they were saying.

“I was shaken and couldn’t understand what was happening. They had taken my beret as a trophy and they were tearing it at like a pack of dogs with a piece of meat. They thought it was funny.”

Mr Gill said that the gang “ran off laughing and joking” out of the park near the bowling green, before he realised his medals were also missing.

“My poppy had been ragged at but they had not managed to steal that,” he said.

“My lip was cut and I was shaken. I can only think I was targeted because of what I was wearing because it was not a mugging or robbery, because I had £200 in cash on me and they didn’t take that or ask for money.”

Mr Gill, who lives alone about 200 yards from the Lund Park gates, said the gang were aged 16-17 years old and he did not recognise any of them.

He dusted himself down and continued his walk to the cenotaph for the 11am act of remembrance.

“There I met my nephew and I told him what had happened and he told me to report it to the police. I didn’t want to make a big fuss about it, but I thought I should report it to prevent anybody else being harmed,” said Mr Gill, who attends monthly regimental meetings at the local Territorial Army Centre.

“After the Remembrance Sunday service I got home at noon and went straight to bed, I was that upset.”

Mr Gill joined up in 1966 and rose from Private to Sergeant until he left following 18 years’ service.

He then got a job in security. He served in Cyprus, Hong Kong, Japan, Gibraltar, Malaysia, and Northern Ireland, where he lost comrades.

He has lived near Lund Park for 60 years and has seen its gradual decline.

“It really has deteriorated. It used to have tennis courts and people played football there, the duck pond has gone and fires are being lit. The bowling green and pavilion have high security fencing to protect them from vandalism,” said Mr Gill.

“I used to have no fears about walking through the park, but I am now reluctant to use it – but if I don’t continue to go in they have won, haven’t they?”

Mr Gill said some of the gang were wearing hoodies, but because of the suddenness and shock of the attack he could not describe them in any better detail.

“I want my medals back, I was proud to earn them and wear them. I also want my beret back, but I think that has probably been torn to bits,” he said.

Inspector Sue Sanderson, who leads the Keighley Area Neighbourhood Team, said: “We would appeal to anyone who saw a group of Asian youths acting suspiciously in the park at around the time of this incident, or anyone who may have seen them leaving the park afterwards.

“We believe there would have been other people around at the time, perhaps also making their way to the Remembrance Day service.”

The police are treating the crime as a robbery, and Insp Sanderson added that although Mr Gill was not injured, “the victim is understandably shaken by the loss of his beret and his medals”.

Edited by Melanie Hall.


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RAF veteran takes to the skies again at 91

October 18th, 2014

Trevor Watkins, a 91-year-old former RAF pilot who flew during World War Two, has returned to the skies once more.

Mr Watkins was part of a bomber squadron based in Italy.

The veteran pilot from Surrey, who still works, took off in a vintage Tiger Moth.

Describing his flight, Mr Watkins said: “It’s a pretty incredible feeling, or as they say, amazing.”


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War veteran who fled care home to attend D day celebrations honoured by home city

July 23rd, 2014

Asked why he travelled across to Normandy, Mr Jordan, a former local borough councillor and mayor of Hove, said: ”My thoughts were with my mates who had been killed.

”I was going across to pay my respects. I was a bit off course but I got there.”

He added: ”Britain is a smashing country and the people are smashing, and if you have to do something a bit special then they are worth every effort.”

Brighton and Hove City Council officials said the honorary alderman title is a mark of respect for the work and commitment given by a former councillor.

Mr Jordan’s honour was to mark his ”exceptional contribution to the work of the newly-formed Brighton and Hove Council and the former Hove Borough Council and to the community”.

Mr Fitch described Mr Jordan – affectionately known as Bernie – as ”a hero and an inspiration to all ages”.

He said: ”It’s grey power. What it shows is that where you have commitment and where you are determined, you can find a way, and that’s what Bernie has done.”

Mr Jordan hit headlines globally when he disappeared from his care home to embark on his cross-Channel trip to the D-Day anniversary events in Normandy wearing his war medals under his grey mac.

His disappearance sparked a police search on June 5 and his whereabouts was only uncovered when a younger veteran phoned later that night to say he had met Mr Jordan and he was safe.

Last month he was inundated with more than 2,500 birthday cards from around the world following his adventure to Normandy.


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