Chelsea Pensioner John Humphreys

John Humphreys

“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.

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Chelsea Pensioner pictured Dairy UK Chair Paul Vernon, the Governor of the Royal Hospital and the ceremonial cheese
Chelsea Pensioners and Dairy UK take part in the annual Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses

A festive tradition dating back to the opening of the Royal Hospital in 1692 – today Dairy UK donated over 270kg of British cheeses to the Chelsea Pensioners to tide them over the festive period.

Christmas Pudding
Festivities begin with the stirring of the Christmas Pudding

The Christmas period officially got underway today at the Royal Hospital, as the Chelsea Pensioners took part in the tradition of stirring in the ingredients for the Christmas pudding.

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