Frank was a Royal Engineer in World War Two he landed on the beach on D-Day and had to ‘bob’ through the sea and then cross the beach.
"….Let’s face it the landing was very gory. You didn’t have time to think, survival instinct kicked in. I wasn’t brave, I wasn’t a hero I was a little cog in a big wheel. When you add all those little cogs together – then we became important. We all worked together towards peace. Most of my time in the army was good, I had an aptitude for languages and I became a German interpreter."
Alan served as a paratrooper in World War Two. In April 1945 he lost his leg along with two of his comrades.
“We got 4 shillings a day extra for being paratroopers – it was a dangerous job. We jumped from aeroplanes behind the enemy lines, to form a bridgehead. We were dropped about 15-20 miles in – in a way we were like a buffer. ‘Hitch up’ meant get your parachute. There were 20 of us per plane, 10 on either side, we were always laughing and joking as we went up. As the plane climbed higher the mood became sombre and everybody retreated into their own prayers.”
Norman volunteered for the Amy at 20 years of age whilst he was waiting for his letter to call him up. He served in Syria and Italy.
"...Suddenly we were getting harassed by a German machine gun. It fires 16 rounds a second. Frightening. So I said to my very good friend ‘come on Bernie let’s go and knock this bloody thing out’ so we started to work our way along the ridge. It was open and we got sniped at. So we ducked down behind a huge rock. My nerve went. Not from fear but from desperation.
"Bernie knew exactly what to do – he said: ‘Mich, mate I am gonna walk over there and ask them to stop shooting at us.’ Well, this was so idiotic that it broke the spell. To deal with combat stress; you make a man laugh."
First soldier to receive VC from Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully on 20th June at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, surrounded by his family.
The Chelsea Pensioners and Royal Hospital staff enjoyed another fantastic year of Live at Chelsea including headline performances by Kaiser Chiefs & James Blunt.