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Blind Veterans UK reconnect two WWII veterans virtually

Published on 23 Aug 2021

Two blind veterans from Hampshire who both served on the same ship at the same time during the Second World War, have been put in contact with each other during lockdown.

97-year-old Arnold from Southampton and 96-year-old Alec from the Isle of Wight, both served on the HMS Campania when Arnold was in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and Alec was in the Royal Navy.

Arnold says:

"I was contacted by a member of staff at the charity who told me that there was another veteran who she thought I would have a lot in common with. The charity arranged a phone call and it was then that we found out that we were both on the same ship at the same time. We were both very surprised!"

Arnold, who we have supported since 2017, joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1943 and served in the Fleet Air Arm. He was discharged in 1946 as a Sub Lieutenant. He lost his sight in later life due to macular degeneration.

HMS Campania Ship sailing through the sea
HMS Campania Ship, 1940s

"My main role was as a navigator on service aircraft. In total, there would have only been about 600 crew members on HMS Campania so what a coincidence!"

Blind veteran
Blind veteran Arnold, walking outside, wearing military medals
Arnold, blind veteran

Alec joined the Royal Navy in 1943 and served until 1946 when he was discharged as a Submarine Detector. During his time on HMS Campania, Alec operated in the English Channel during the Normandy landings. Alec has also been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration and has been supported by us since December 2020.

He says:

"We have both now exchanged numbers and will keep in contact. We both would have served in the same battles during that time, so I have so many questions to ask! In the early days, I went to reunions and met with other veterans from the ship, but this is the first person in a long time who I have reconnected with!"

Arnold and Alec hope to speak again soon to find out more about each other’s service history. Arnold says:

"The first call was an hour and a half and time flew by".

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