Bob served as a Private in the 2nd South Wales Borderers. He was one of the first men ashore on D-Day.
Bob lost his sight as the result of a blast, which also cost him his right leg below the knee, his left lower arm and caused some damage to his remaining hand. Bob joined Blind Veterans UK (then known as St Dunstan’s) soon afterwards, initially spending some time at our eye unit which was then based at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. After that he came to our wartime training and rehabilitation base at Church Stretton, Shropshire. Here Bob learnt Braille, typewriting, weaving, leatherwork and to play wind instruments. He also met Joan, the daughter of First World War blind veteran Joe Walch who was helping teach music to the newly-blinded of World War II. Bob and Joan were to marry in 1948.
After the war Bob and Joan ran a kiosk within our Brighton centre for many years. Both were closely involved with the charity’s activities, and Bob’s interests included dancing, music and bowls. He and Joan were members of a singing group, originally the Osborne Trio and later Joan and the Three Blind Mice. They had two children.
Bob later spoke about his memories of D-Day:
"I’ve never seen so many ships in my life. We had some difficulty landing, but the thing that really sticks in my mind was that as we looked inland the countryside was covered in poppies – lots of red poppies. We lost a lot of people then and I remember thinking it could have been another Dunkirk if we hadn’t broken through."
"When I look back and my best pals were killed, and we lost most of the battalions on the landings…looking back now, I just sit quiet at home, even at the armistice, and think of my friends who I’d lost."Bob
Bob died in 2011 at the age of 87. Joan remains closely involved with us, and organises our Brighton centre’s bowling activities. Joan was recently awarded a British Empire Medal in recognition of her lifelong commitment to Blind Veterans UK.