D-DAY VETERANS CELEBRATE THEIR 100TH BIRTHDAYS!
Two D-Day veterans who live here at Broughton House Veteran Care Village in Salford have celebrated their 100th birthdays in December.
Peter Belcher marked his milestone with a party attended by his relatives and other residents, and guests including Blackley and Broughton MP Graham Stringer and Coun Gina Reynolds, the ceremonial mayor of Salford. Peter received the traditional 100th birthday greeting from the King.
After a carvery lunch, Peter and his guests were entertained by singer Sarah Dennis, who is known as The Veterans’ Sweetheart.
Peter, who was 100 on December 9, was enlisted as a paratrooper in the Airborne Regiment, 4th Battalion Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He fought throughout the Second World War and served a total of 12 years before being demobbed in 1949.
He served in 17 countries and was awarded six military medals, including the illustrious Legion d’Honneur.
By D-Day, Peter was part of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire 1st Airborne D Company, whose job was a crucial mission to land Horsa gliders as part of Operation Deadstick, to capture Pegasus Bridge to provide protection for soldiers arriving on the Normandy beaches.
He and his comrades succeeded in just 10 minutes, soon after midnight, and six hours before the beach landings. Peter managed to take down two enemy tanks using an anti-tank gun after landing his glider. The tactical advantage of the bridge ensured that the eastern flank of Sword Beach in Normandy was protected.
The capture of Pegasus Bridge was later dramatised in the epic US war film The Longest Day.
After that battle, Peter was deployed to the Belgian town of Bastogne to help with the Battle of the Bulge.
Peter, the youngest of 12 children, was born in Wantage but moved to Manchester after leaving the army.
He was married for 55 years to Annie, who passed way in 2002. The couple had one son, David, who was at his father’s party along with other relatives including Peter’s granddaughters and nieces. Peter spent most of his working life on the railways as a wheeltapper.
Broughton House trustee Peter Curtis said: “When one thinks of dramatic actions and incidents throughout the Second World War, there are not many that surpass the extraordinary operation to capture Pegasus Bridge. We owe Peter and all of his comrades so much.”
The other Broughton House centenarian is David Teacher, whose birthday was on Friday, December 29.
David joined the RAF at the age of 18 and served in World War II from 1942-45.
He was a mechanic in an RAF Beach Unit, which was among the first to land on Juno Beach in Normandy on D-Day in 1944. His job was to repair vehicles.
After living for three months on the beach in a trench, his unit moved to fight in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and was involved in relieving US troops besieged in Bastogne in December 1944.
David is a former vice-chairman of the Bolton and District Normandy Veterans Association and a former chairman of the Manchester Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women. In 2012, David, a double amputee, was awarded an MBE for his charitable work. He is a widower who was married to Nancy for more than 70 years.
Karen Miller, chief executive of Broughton House, said: “It is my absolute privilege to be giving David heartfelt birthday wishes from the whole team at Broughton House as he becomes a centenarian. David really is an inspiration to us all.
“Having served his country so courageously during the war, David has continued to dedicate his life to serve others, not only through his charitable work but also by sharing with the younger generation the values of friendship, duty and service.”
Broughton House has cared for more than 8,000 veterans since it opened its doors to the ex-service community in 1916.
It has recently been redeveloped into a complex with a 64-bed care home, including a 16-bed household dedicated to veterans with dementia, as well as independent living apartments, an array of modern facilities, a museum, gym, hairdressing and barber’s salon, and a restaurant and bar for residents.
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