Blind Derbyshire WWII ex-soldier to march on Remembrance Sunday with Blind Veterans UK
7 October 2014 10:20
95-year-old blind World War II veteran from Higham is set to join over 100 other vision impaired veterans on the annual Remembrance march to the Cenotaph in London, representing Blind Veterans UK.
Bill Braund, originally from the Rhonda Valley and now living in Higham, Derbyshire, will take part in the march as part of a contingent from Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision impaired ex-Service men and women.
Despite being blinded in one eye after an accident as a child, Bill served in the Welsh Regiment for the entirety of World War II and rose to the rank of Sergeant Major. Bill says "The Army was hard-going, especially the training, but it was one of those things that we just took in our stride - there was a war on, so we had to serve."
During his time in the Army, Bill served in Sudan, Malawi and Burma, spending five years in the King's African Rifles. Bill says "We didn't see much action in Africa, but Burma was very difficult. We arrived in monsoon season, and it would take us a week to travel 26 miles because the roads were impassable. As a Welshman, I thought I'd seen a lot of rain, but that was nothing compared to Burma."
Bill was discharged from the Army in 1946 and returned to the Rhonda Valley, where he played as a goalkeeper for Cardiff City FC as well as being a tram driver in the city.
Six decades after leaving the Army, Bill noticed that he was struggling with the sight in his good eye. Bill was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration in his remaining eye and was registered blind in 2008.
Bill, who has now lived in Derbyshire for 16 years, is now receiving free and comprehensive support from Blind Veterans UK to help him live independently with sight loss. He says "Blind Veterans UK has brought me back into the world. I used to be very negative about my sight loss, but meeting other veterans in a similar situation has really helped me find the positives.
"Blind Veterans UK has also given me various gadgets to help me make the most of the sight I still have."
On Sunday 9 November, Bill will be one of the thousands of veterans taking part in the national Remembrance Sunday march in London. Bill, who has marched four times previously, will be completing the march with Blind Veterans UK in a wheelchair.
Bill says "Remembrance Sunday means a lot to me personally; particularly when I think of the friends I lost in World War II. I had one very good friend who drowned in Burma when we were crossing a rope bridge. He was swept away by the current and his body was never found. I'll be thinking about him, and all those who've died in service, during the two minutes' silence."
Our No One Alone campaign aims to reach out to more veterans like Bill. More than 68,000 other veterans could be eligible for our free help and support without realising it. If you know someone who served in the Armed Forces or National Service who now suffers with sight loss from any reason visit www.noonealone.org.uk or call 0800 389 7979.