Dunkirk to D-Day: 101-year-old Kent veteran recalls time in service

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Sarah Saunders (filmed pre-lockdown)

A 101-year-old Second World War veteran from the Isle of Grain, who fought from Dunkirk to D-Day, has spoke to ITV Meridian about his time in service ahead of Remembrance Sunday.

At the start of the war, Jeff Haward had enlisted straight away, fighting in some of the major battles of WW2.

He was at D-Day, El Alamein and as the Rear Guard, he was one of the last soldiers to leave the beaches at Dunkirk.

He says: "We waded out into the sea, I was up to my waist and of course there were no boats.  As soon it came light over came the Luftwaffe, machine gunning and that. We were like sitting ducks in the water."

A young Jeff Haward

After hours walking along the beaches he found what looked like like a burning boat and huddled inside were hundreds of soldiers.

"The crew lit oily rags in drums so the boat appeared to be on fire. I was so tired I fell asleep, and next thing I knew I was woken up and someone said we were coming onto Folkestone and that's all I know about that!"

At one point Jeff was mistaken for a German and shot by one of his own company, something they laughed about afterwards.  He was fighting in Germany when the end of the war finally came.

He says: "Blackwatch officer came over to me and said 'stop firing officer the war's over'.  We got this German farmer to make us some schnapps, which was fire water, and we all got paralytic."

Jeff is one of a diminishing group of World War Two veterans still able to tell us their stories, and he had written his extraordinary in a book, his own way to remember.