Angus and Simon's story
Both soldiers were blinded while serving in the Middle East.
Captain Angus Buchanan, originally from Gloucestershire, enlisted with the South Wales Borderers while he was studying on a scholarship at Oxford University. Despite being wounded twice while serving in the Dardanelles in north-western Turkey, he returned from sick leave to join his men in Mesopotamia, present day Iraq.
It was here that he was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in rescuing two injured soldiers under fire. Just two months before he was due to be officially presented with the medal, Angus was hit in the head by a shell and blinded. He came to our charity, then St. Dunstan’s, in November 1917.
“For most conspicuous bravery. During an attack an officer was lying out in the open severely wounded about 150 yards from cover. Two men went to his assistance and one of them was hit at once. Captain Buchanan, on seeing this, immediately went out and, with the help of the other man, carried the wounded officer to cover under heavy machine gun fire.”London Gazette on the reason for Angus’ VC
We supported Angus in learning Braille and typewriting as well as helping him rediscover his love of sport. As a result, Angus became a very active member of our rowing team. With these skills he was able to return to Oxford where he studied Law, becoming a member of a college rowing eight and later working as a solicitor.
Simon, like Angus, was serving in Iraq when he was blinded by sniper fire. Originally from Leeds, Simon joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 1997. It was nearly eleven years ago, when he was a Corporal on tour in Iraq, that Simon’s life changed forever.
On 6 December 2006, after Simon had successfully led a mission to recover a stranded vehicle with six soldiers in Basra, he was shot in the face by a sniper. He awoke from a coma 17 days later in Selly Oak Hospital where he was told that his left eye was completely destroyed and there was little hope for his right eye.
“When I was told that I’d lost my sight, what I heard was your life is over. Over time I learnt to accept my sight loss and with the support of Blind Veterans UK I stopped becoming a victim and became a survivor.”Simon
Just like Angus however, Simon wasn’t going to let sight loss hold him back. Simon received practical and emotional support from our charity which included a rehabilitation program to support him in living independently. He has since gone on to dedicate himself to working with charitable and voluntary organisations, using his experience to motivate others.
Simon now works as a communications and engagement officer with Blind Veterans UK, where he is responsible for reaching out to more blind veterans who could benefit from our support.