They served their country then. They need your support now.

On 8 May, it will be 75 years since the end of World War II in Europe. During six dark, destructive years of conflict, thousands of servicemen lost their sight as a result of a brutal war. They couldn’t see the glorious sun that rose on VE (Victory in Europe) Day, signalling a peaceful new dawn. But Blind Veterans UK, then
St Dunstan’s, was there to help them rebuild their lives.

Margaret Wilson, Ron Cross, Jim Wright and Jim Hooper along with many others endured and survived the war and we would like to celebrate their bravery by sharing their stories.

Margaret Wilson

Margaret, who now lives in Mansfield, joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in 1942. She initially served as a wireless operator but later in the war she trained in Vital Communications and went on to work as a Codebreaker at Bletchley Park.

Remembering VE Day 75 years ago Margaret says: “I was on duty when I heard. We all finished at Bletchley Park at 6 and went to Bedford where we were billeted in the YWCA.

“At 10 there was such a pandemonium - everything that could make a noise was out. People were blowing trumpets and banging drums and parading through the streets. They asked us to join in, but we were in our pyjamas and we were back on shift at Bletchley the next day too!”

Margaret lost her sight much later in life due to age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of sight loss in older people and has been supported by Blind Veterans UK since 2016.

Jim Wright

Wing Commander Jim Wright first volunteered for flying duties in 1941 when he was just 20. He trained as a navigator and flew in 43 daring raids. During his fifth mission, his aircraft was caught in searchlights above Kassel in Germany and attacked by three night fighters. But Jim’s bravery never wavered. Let’s be forever grateful because the heroic actions of Jim and the entire bomber aircrew were essential to hasten the end of the war and gain victory.

Now in his nineties, Jim battles age-related macular
degeneration.

Ron Cross

Ron, a war veteran from Hampshire, joined the Royal Engineers in August 1940. He was part of the 79th Armoured Division when he landed in Normandy in June 1944 aged 24. Ron was later discharged as a Corporal in 1946, after which he returned to Gosport to work at Haslar Hospital as an Occupational Therapist for 37 years.

He developed and built up the Occupational Therapy Department over a long career and received an MBE for his work at the hospital.

75 years on from VE Day, Ron now suffers from age-related macular degeneration, and since 2012, he has been supported by Blind Veterans UK

Jim Hooper

In 1944, Jim was involved in Operation Market Garden where he was taken prisoner by German troops and held as a prisoner of war for seven months. When he was released, he rejoined his regiment and left the Service in 1946 as a staff sergeant.

Remembering VE Day 75 years on Jim says: "I was a Staff Sergeant in the Glider Pilot Regiment. Together with two other glider pilots I’d broken out of the prisoner of war camp were contained in and on May the 8th the Americans had actually reached us at the bridge we were looking to cross. This allowed us to carry on and eventually get home.”

It was years later, when Jim was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma which lead to sight loss. Jim had long been a supporter of Blind Veterans UK and was aware of the support available to veterans with sight loss, which meant he got in touch with the charity as soon as he could.

We are currently helping 1200 Second World War veterans who served their country but now 75 years later need the country’s support.