98 year-old Taunton war hero urges people to 'play their part' to help Britain overcome coronavirus

  • Watch the full report from ITV West Country's Ben McGrail above

A veteran from Taunton has said it’s important everyone plays their part to overcome coronavirus, just as people did during the Second World War.

For the 75th anniversary of VE Day, 98 year-old Jim Booth invited ITV News to his home so he could tell his story.

Jim was part of a secret mission to spy on the beaches of Normandy ahead of D-Day Credit: Jim Booth

On VE Day, whilst people were celebrating at home, Jim Booth’s war was far from over. He was in Burma, fighting the Japanese behind enemy lines.

He said he was unsure how to react to the news of victory in Europe: "Obviously we were pleased but I’d spent my entire life in the Navy, up to that point.

"Any idea of peace time was unknown to me so we didn’t really know what was going to happen."

Jim has been unable to see most of his family during the coronavirus lockdown Credit: ITV News West Country

We should have confidence. Every generation faces its own challenge. Everything will be alright in the end.

Jim Booth, WWII veteran

Jim took part in a secret undercover mission to spy on the beaches of Normandy ahead of D-Day, and was thousands of miles from home and behind enemy lines when victory was declared in Europe.

His war would continue into the summer, when Victory in Japan finally ended WWII.

75 years on, Britain is fighting a different kind of enemy. Isolated from much of his family, Jim says he sees similarities between the war and coronavirus: “All our services were dedicated to victory and to put up with everything to get there in the end.

“The same thing applies to here. We’ve got to stay going until we win. We should have confidence. Every generation faces its own challenge.

"Everything will be alright in the end. We’ve got to be strong as we always have been in the past and we must all play our part as we did in two world wars. We will overcome in the end.”

Key to victory now is the NHS, a service Jim saw the work of first hand after a vicious attack at his home in 2017.

He said: “They’re absolutely amazing, absolutely fantastic. They supported me afterwards, all the time. They’ve been absolutely fantastic.”

Jim Booth has paid tribute to the NHS, who cared for him as he fought for his life following an attack in 2017 Credit: ITV News West Country

Jim was awarded a British Empire Medal in the 2020 New Year's Honours list for services to charity and the community.

However, his visit to Buckingham Palace to collect it has been postponed. It will instead happen in 2021, when he will turn 100 years of age.

He says he is happy to be patient and hopes the country as a whole will too.

It’s so easy for me to say this - I’m lucky here because I’ve got a nice garden to go out to.

Jim Booth, WWII veteran
Jim Booth and his family invited ITV News to interview him so he could share his story Credit: ITV News West Country