Sadly, no one knows how many World War Two veterans are alive today, they are a generation that has seen profound change, several speak of fathers and uncles serving in The Great War of 1914 – 1918.  Yet hardly a generation later they were to answer the call to fight in another war.

It was never practical or possible to meet all the surviving veterans from World War Two, but I believe the veterans I had the privilege to meet and whose stories I have captured, show the character of a generation born a century ago.

The veterans in this book served in the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force plus the ATS.   They all joined after the outbreak of war, they all wanted to do something for their country, at a time in our history referred to by Winston Churchill as – Our Darkest Hour.

Between them, they witnessed the North Africa campaign, Italy, the beaches of D Day and the Rhine Crossing that led to VE Day and even after this, the concentration camps.  Others were in the far east still confronting the Japanese after VJ Day as they visited the numerous remote islands.

But this is not a collection of war stories.  They are stories of amazing people leading amazing lives.  Yet, none of them believes they are heroes, none of them think they did anything special; they just did what was expected of them.

… we set in line and headed for Normandy. After a very rough crossing, we arrived to find all hell breaking loose. The next few days changed me from a young boy into a man.
Jack Smith – Royal Marines

‘That finger saved my life, the battalion was getting ready to go to North Africa and I lost a lot of mates, there were quite a few who did not get back.
Arthur Perkins – Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

‘… seeing a flying bomb coming over followed by a Spitfire, the Spitfire got very close and fired into the engine causing the flying bomb to drop like a stone with a big explosion.
Tom Carter – Royal Artillery

‘I didn’t enjoy Belsen, seeing all the people just skin and bones, skeletons were walking about, it was horrendous.
Donald Rose – Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey)

‘… a young paratrooper brandishing a Luger 9mm pistol … he throws my helmet and the rest of my equipment down … flinging my reading glasses to the ground and stamped his jackboot on them … he then jabbed his Luger into my stomach.
Ernest Tryner – Seaforth Highlanders

‘You’re the man of the house now Ken, look after your mother and sister … I took my mother and sister home. Then I found my father had gone to war with the front door key.
Ken Hoddy – The Rifle Brigade