Spalding WWII veteran Les (96) served alongside tragic ‘Chambo’
Our story about a tragic Spalding war hero who will be honoured on a new memorial was read by veteran Les Wilson, who served alongside him.
Spalding man Les, who is about to mark his 97th birthday, has offered to share memories of George Harold Chamberlain with George’s grandson, Steve Smith, and their time in A Company, the 6th Battalion Lincolns.
It’s amazing that a 97-year-old Lincoln can recall something as tragic and unbelievable as this ...
Les said George – who was known to his mates as “Harold” or “Chambo” – was a Dunkirk veteran serving in North Africa at the time he was killed on March 3, 1943 in the Battle of Sedjenane.
Chambo was a great pal of Les’s brother Stan and Les recalls: “He was a character.”
Although it was 75 years ago, Les remembers he was only ten or 20 yards away from the spot where Chambo was killed and, the next day, Stan was taken prisoner, eventually ending up on a 1,000-mile forced march through Poland.
“They said he was only about eight stones when he got home,” said Les. “I didn’t get out until the next year.”
While brothers Les, Stan and Jack, who served with the North Staffs, survived the war, there was another brother – Colin – who had signed up for the RAF and was killed in July 1944 while Les was away fighting.
Spalding WWII Memorial Committee needs to raise another £30,000 to complete the project that will see all of Spalding’s WWII dead commemorated in one place – the Peace Garden in Ayscoughfee Gardens – for the first time.
It’s hoped the memorial will be in place by spring next year.
Les told us: “It’s very important that it’s built. I am hoping I am about to see it when it’s done.”
Steve was delighted and amazed by Les offering to meet him to share information about his grandfather’s life in the Lincolns.
He says people today can’t begin to imagine what it was like for those who fought in WWII, or comprehend their bravery and how they just “got on with it”.
Coun Rodney Grocock, who chairs the WWII Memorial charity, said: “It is absolutely amazing what comes to light when you are talking about the Second World War because you still have to remember there’s a great many veterans still alive.
“It’s amazing that a 97-year-old Lincoln can recall something as tragic and unbelievable as this ... my thoughts go out to him for his bravery and also for bringing it to our attention so at least it goes out to the greater public.”
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