Plymouth war veteran celebrates 'remarkable' 100th birthday with socially-distanced party

  • Watch Sam Blackledge's report on Wally Coleman's 100th birthday

A World War Two veteran from Plymouth has been celebrating his hundredth birthday in style.

Wally Coleman, who served in the Royal Air Force and helped to liberate Norway in 1945, marked his century today - and had a few friends round to join the party.

I'm just knocking on and hoping for the best. When I look back on 100 years it's remarkable.

Wally Coleman

Wally signed up for the air force as a 19-year-old. He went on to fight in the Battle of Britain, and later to help liberate Norway from German forces in 1945.

Last year he was awarded a medal from the Norwegian Government in honour of his service.

His memories of the war are still remarkably clear.

Wally received the traditional card from The Queen. Credit: ITV News

"I was blown up twice," he says. "You could hear the bombs coming and coming and coming, and the next thing the whole place went up. And do you know, I can see it as if it was today."

Wally is an extremely popular member of the Plymbridge House nursing home, and he certainly knows how to keep the staff on their toes.

Manager Kathie Shopland says: "Wally is a lovely gent. Very polite, very precise with what he needs and wants and not afraid to tell us. His health hasn't been too good the last couple of weeks. I think a lot of it has been anxiety about getting to today but we've made it and we're very happy about that."

Wally celebrated his 100th birthday in style in the nursing home car park because of the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: ITV West Country

Wally's son, Nigel, said his father's 100th birthday is an "amazing achievement".

"He's still quite a character," Nigel says. "He's been telling everyone to stay back so I think he's got the social distancing down to a tee."


Read more: Cornwall tourism boss Malcolm Bell rejects 'Benidorm on steroids' tag as visitors flock to county