99-year-old veteran recalls devastating attack during war

99-year-old Les Cherrington. Credit: National Memorial Arboretum

A remarkable 99-year-old Second World War veteran who survived an attack on his tank has spoken of his experience during the war.

Les Cherrington of the Staffordshire Yeomanry escaped an explosion that killed the rest of his tank crew following a battle in the North African desert in 1943.

Les, who was trained as a gunner, was born in Shifnal in rural Shropshire, and as a young man he was drawn to farm work.

It was on 26 March in 1943 when Les was almost killed after an 88 millimetre gun opened fire at the Sherman tank him and his comrades were occupying.

When describing the moments just after the attack, Les describes how his shirt and trousers were all on fire.

He was also seriously wounded, having suffered gunshot wounds to his left arm and back. Despite these injuries, Les managed to drag himself out of the destroyed tank and crawl into a nearby trench where he drifted in and out of consciousness.

Les was eventually found in the trench and received medical treatment by nurses.

Les Cherrington retired in 1983. Credit: National Memorial Arboretum

In April 1944, Les was discharged. The many months spent in a hospital bed meant that he wasn't in any shape to go back to war.

Instead, he found a job at the post office in Shifnal for about a year and a half before joining RAF Cosford.

He retired in 1983 at MoD Donnington after four decades of service across the UK and one Queen's Police Medal.