A SECOND World War veteran with sight loss has recalled the incredible moment he came face-to-face with his next door neighbour during the 1944 Invasion of Normandy.
Anthony Delahoy, aged 95, from Edinburgh, joined the Armed Forces in January 1942 – on his 19th birthday – and trained as a gunner with the Royal Artillery Anti-Tank Regiment.
Aged 21, he journeyed to German-occupied France as a despatch rider with the 55th Anti-Tank Regiment on June 7 as part of the Battle of Normandy.
Scrambling down the nets into the landing craft, it was then that Anthony came face-to-face with its pilot – his next-door neighbour from his home street in South East London.
“What a fantastic coincidence,” said Anthony. “Hundreds of ships and thousands of people, and you scramble down into the landing craft, and then, ‘Oh, there’s Jackie from next door!”
“Everything was happening so quickly. No sooner were you down and loaded into the landing craft, it was away to the beach, which wasn’t far.
“I have no idea if he survived, I never saw him again. I hadn’t seen him since 1940, when our house in South East London was destroyed in an air raid.”
After the breakout from Normandy fighting continued through Belgium, Holland and Germany, finishing in Europe in May 1945.
However, Anthony was sent to the Far East after four weeks leave in England. But as he reached India the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, which soon led to the end of the war against Japan.
Anthony was transferred to the Gordon Highlanders 100th Anti-Tank Regiment for the next year and a half in India.
He returned home in November 1946, and worked at the Co-op, before working as a tram conductor, and then embarking on a career as a school keeper.
Anthony has revisited France on numerous occasions in the years following his wartime experiences as a young man.
As Remembrance Day approaches, he feels it is more important than ever that present and future generations get to hear veterans’ stories.
Despite his sight loss, with the help of lighting equipment supplied to him by Scottish War Blinded, he continues to write down his memoirs.
“It is very difficult for the younger generations to picture the older generations as being like them once,” he said.
“My children are encouraging me to write all of this down. They are quite right. The memories are no good to anybody else unless they are told.”
Anthony is just one of hundreds of veterans with sight loss around the country who are receiving support and specialist equipment from Scottish War Blinded to enable them to carry on living as independently as possible.
Scottish War Blinded gives free support to former servicemen and women of all ages, no matter if they lost their sight during or after service.