War veteran Claude Rolt from Bourne joined about 1,000 fellow veterans for an emotional Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in London to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day.
Claude, aged 94, received a special invitation from the Queen inviting him to attend the service in London on Friday, May 8, to remember those who sacrificed their lives.
Claude, who was accompanied by his brother-in-law on the day, said: “It was a lovely surprise. There were so many people there on the day who took the time to shake my hand and say thank you - it was very emotional.”
Joined by fellow representatives of Second World War veteran groups, both military and civilian, the service was also attended by The Duke of York, senior politicians, the Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nicholas Houghton and current members of the Armed Forces.
People lined the streets to watch the service which included a two-minute silence followed by the Last Post which was played by a Royal Marine bugler and the laying of wreaths.
Claude, who still lives at home, said: “It was an honour to be there, it was a beautiful occasion.”
Both Claude and his twin brother, George, who lives in Pointon, joined the forces aged just 18 years old, and both worked as drivers in the war transporting troops and prisoners of war across France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.
Claude explained how it was a frightening job, having to drive the large vehicles on your own, often in the dark with no lights allowed.
Their older brother Jack, from Bourne, also fought in the war and will be turning 100 in September.
Claude is grateful to have such a large family who have supported him over the years, including his six great grandchildren.
MUM’S MEMORY OF THE BIG DAY
Reader Pat Mapleston has sent us his mother’s recounting of VE Day from a letter dated May 11, 1945 to her fiance serving in army abroad:
“Spalding went gay on VE day and the day after. We had two days off from work like most other people. We went into the market place and heard the King’s speech and then the dancing started, can you imagine trying to dance on cobble stones!
We didn’t stay very late but I’ve heard the dancing and bonfires went on until 3 in the morning. We also went down the second night again and saw some boxing in the market place and there was community singing and dancing, and the biggest bonfire I’ve ever seen.
Last night Dad and I went to Pinchbeck village hall where ‘Hitler’ was hanged and then burned – so we do know he’s dead now!”