Ron, 104 and from Cliftonville in Kent, was the oldest blind veteran marching at the Cenotaph in London this Remembrance Sunday.
He proudly took his place in the Remembrance Sunday commemorations which always hold special significance for him as his father was killed in 1918 and is buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetary in the Somme, France.
"I am hugely honoured to march at Cenotaph on behalf of Blind Veterans UK. It is an extraordinary charity, which makes an unbelievable difference to the lives of veterans like me, and our families too."Ron
Ron joined the Army in 1931 and, on the outbreak of the Second World War, was posted to Hong Kong to defend the then British colony. In late 1941 the Japanese attacked Hong Kong, including Port Stanley where Ron was based. After 18 days of fighting against overwhelming odds his garrison surrendered.
He became a prisoner of war and remained so until the end of the Second World War. It was this four year ordeal that led to Ron losing his sight, and his hearing, because of the malnutrition he suffered in the camp.
Ron says, “Each man was given a scoop of rice but many were unable to eat it and looking at the portion of rice one could see mice droppings and insects. Disease soon broke out resulting in many deaths.”
In 1943 the prisoners of war were transported to Japan and on this journey diphtheria broke out and Ron caught the disease. Many died and he was only saved by the actions of two doctors, including his medical officer. A month later and Ron had completely lost his sight and most of his hearing.
As a young man his main objective was to find employment and, with the charity’s help, he purchased a post office which he and his wife then ran for 25 years.