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Veterans highlight VE Day events

Published 22/04/2015

The British Legion is urging veterans to attend the 70th anniversary of VE Day in London
The British Legion is urging veterans to attend the 70th anniversary of VE Day in London

Second World War veterans have come together to highlight the commemorative events taking place to mark Victory in Europe (VE) Day.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of VE Day when Second World War Allied forces finally defeated Hitler's Nazi troops on the continent - and could be one of the last major anniversaries for many veterans.

The Royal British Legion is calling out to veterans who would like to take part in the national VE Day commemorations in London and wants them to know that they and their carers will receive funding to put towards attending the event on the weekend of May 8 to 10.

The charity said places will be available for a series of commemorative events over the weekend including on VE Day itself, Friday May 8, when a service of remembrance will be held at the Cenotaph, with a national two-minute silence at 3pm.

On Sunday, there will be a service of thanksgiving at 11am at Westminster Abbey attended by the Queen, followed by a parade from the Abbey to Horse Guards Parade and into St James's Park, where the Legion will host a lunch reception for the veterans.

London-based veterans joined serving guards for a photocall on Horse Guards Parade this morning, and veteran C harles Jeffries, 93, from Hackney, said he gets "quite an emotional feeling" when he meets up with his former comrades. He said it is "an exciting moment".

Mr Jeffries, who said he is "definitely" anti-war, said army life was a "great life" and he would recommend joining up.

He said he would never have left the army if he had not got married as he enjoyed the comradeship, which he said you do not really find in civilian life.

Another veteran, Richard Forester, 89, praised the Legion and said it "does wonderful things".

Reflecting on his experience of the war, he said: "I remember I was frightened most of the time.

"I lost two commanding officers in three months."

He said he used to pray to God that he would make it to the end of the day.

Even now, Mr Forester, who has been back to Germany twice, said he gets "very angry at times".

Asked what he gets angry about, he said: "The German people don't like us you know.

"We've been back to Germany and wear our medals and they don't like it. They don't like it."

The veteran, of the 2nd Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps, said the reactions in Germany were of "disdain" and "disapproval".

When asked why he thinks he got that reaction, the veteran, from London, said: "Because they're Germans and they don't react like anybody else."

He added: "I think what it is, the older generation and the children they've spoken to, they remember the destruction of Germany during World War Two and they don't like the idea to think of the people who've done it."

Mr Forester said he does not want to return to Germany.

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