Second World War veteran Harold Wilson L d'H is one of the lucky few, having defied the odds to reach his 101st birthday last month. Amid a gathering of friends and family that was denied him a year ago for his centenary, the Pershore resident was honoured by a visit from Charles Byrne, the Director General of the Royal British Legion and the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Worcestershire, Brigadier Roger Brunt. In a touching gesture of support, Mr Byrne travelled from the Legion's headquarters in London to present Harold with a special badge commemorating his eight year service in HM Armed Forces.
Having enlisted as a regular in the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry just before the outbreak of war in 1939, Harold was part of the Normandy beach landings in June 1944. He endured the long and vicious campaign across Northern Europe as the Allies liberated it from Nazi Germany. Harold lost many comrades and survived several near misses before an injury saw him sent back to Britain in April 1945 as his regiment advanced on Berlin.
Once recovered, the Yorkshireborn soldier was sent to Italy where he served until he was demobbed in 1947. His fortune in surviving the war gave him opportunity to have a family with his late wife Jean. Son Ian, daughter-in-law Lottie and two daughters, Pamela and Judith were this year able to be together to celebrate their father's birthday. Harold also enjoyed a tea party given by his fellow residents of Roland Rutter Court on Newlands. Town crier Robert Speight roused attendees to be upstanding for the eldest member of the gathering, while neighbour Bob Hackford remarked, “Harold is doing so well. It's a hell of an age to get to!” Amen to that.
NB: L d'H is abbreviation for Legion d'Honneur, one of France's highest military honours for which Harold was awarded for his part in the Liberation of France.