Veterans with tales to tell offer an insight into combat across the decades at Duxford

Turning back the clock at Duxford

Turning back the clock at Duxford - Credit: Archant

There’s a chance to learn about wartime from the men who have been there and lived to tell the tale at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford this weekend.

Meet the veterans at Duxford

Meet the veterans at Duxford - Credit: Archant

And tomorrow’s Meet The Veterans session is just the first of a series of half term week dates where personal stories of war will help history come alive.

The two-hour slots offer a fascinating opportunity to meet and chat with people who have experienced a wide range of conflicts, from the Second World War and the Cold War to global contemporary conflicts, including Northern Ireland, the Falklands War, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veterans who will be on parade cover a wide range of ages, backgrounds and experiences, ranging from members of the Royal Air Force, Army and Royal Navy to National Service conscripts and civilians who experienced the Second World War home front as children, playing on the wartime bomb sites and enduring air raids, rationing and evacuation.

There are sessions tomorrow, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11am to 1pm.


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Among those who will be there is John Lowe, now 95, who joined up as a gunner in the months before war broke out. He recalls that the training on offer was “ludicrous…we were funnier than Dad’s Army.”

Several times he applied to be a lance bombardier but was always turned down “because I looked too young. It was suggested, often, that I grew a moustache. I hate moustaches, so remained a gunner.”

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After serving in India, John was captured and served as a prisoner of war in Taiwan for three years, using the signwriting skills he learned in civvy street to letter the crosses for burials and also made diaries by sewing together small pieces of airmail paper, covered with pocket material cut from the breeches of Japanese officers.

He’ll be telling his fascinating story on Tuesday and Thursday.

On Sunday former Vulcan pilot Robin Buttle, a veteran of the Cold War, and Fred Henley, a Second World War navy veteran of the Russian convoys, will be among those who will be talking about their experiences along with Les Keen, a wartime evacuee who also served in the navy.

On Tuesday Robin will join John, Les and former RAF corporal Tony Leonard, who served in Northern Ireland and the first Gulf War, and Ivan Potter, a one-time member of Churchill’s Secret Army, the resistance units formed to fight guerilla warfare if the planned German invasion of Britain had succeeded.

Find out full details of the programme at www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-duxford.

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