“We were all waiting to go to France when they were all pulling out [Battle of Dunkirk]. So we got sent to Africa instead. I was in the desert till 1942. To cut a long story short the Germans’ broke through, I got injured and when I woke up I was surrounded by a couple of Germans who looked down on me and said: ‘For you Tommy the war is over.’ I can still see them now if I close my eyes, two big fellas, looking down on me. They were very good to me and sent me to hospital, once I was out, I was a Prisoner of War and they sent me to Italy. The Germans’ behaved strictly according to the Geneva Convention as far as I was concerned.
“I was in the camp in Italy and that was a soul destroying experience, because you didn’t know when the war was going to end... what do you do all day? You lived on a quarter pint of soup a small piece of bread and a small piece of cheese. That was your rations for a day. I stuck it for so long and decided that I was going to escape somehow….”
John was a Prisoner of War twice during the Second World War, and managed to escape twice.
The Royal Hospital Chelsea is celebrating National Care Home Open Day 2018 on Friday 20th April, by opening the doors to its dedicated care facility – the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary (MTI).
Chelsea Pensioners, David and Tom Lyall describe their close sibling relationship