A Second World War veteran from Selsey has received his war medals after almost 74 years.
Albert Walker, known affectionately as Bob, was just 18 years of age when in 1939 he joined the RAF’s Bomber Command and served as a chef in the mess, feeding troops.
Bob has particularly strong memories of Peshwar where life under canvas meant dealing with snakes, cooking in the midday heat and sleeping contrastingly cold nights.
He reached the rank of Sergeant and when he de-mobbed, returned to family life in Bognor Regis as his father set him to work in their leather handbag and luggage shop under the arcade.
With his wife, Joan, Bob raised their children and continued running the shop until early retirement.
Bob now resides at the old Malthouse Residential Care Home in Selsey where celebrations of this year’s 75th anniversary of D-Day unravelled the mystery of Bob’s missing medals.
As memories and stories were shared, Bob, now aged 98, revealed how he believed he had never received his medals from the Second World War.
Without wasting any time, the manager at the care home, Angie Shepherd, liaised with staff, Sue Sneath, Nicola Rich and Mary Oliver, acting on Bob’s behalf to investigate.
Bob still knew his service number from the war and the Ministry of Defence was contacted, where his story was relayed and medals applied for.
Within weeks, to everyone’s delight, there was a special delivery for Bob, his War Medal 1939-1945, Defence Medal and, as a survivor, HM Armed Forces Veterans badge were inside.
Staff at the care home decided that Bob deserved a special surprise presentation and celebration.
The community all rallied together, Selsey’s Royal British Legion steward, Mary Hausted agreed to host the event, The RAF Association (RAFA) south east welfare office contact, Sue Smith, sent Bob a squadron tie and gifted funds for a new outfit.
When there wasn’t enough money for shoes, footwear company, CosyFeet generously donated a new pair for Bob.
Presenting the medals was Bognor Regis’ RAF Association’s president, Ronald Flatt, and secretary, David Hewings.
David said: “Bob really deserves this. It is important to recognise this and it’s really good that the care home have done this.”
Local singers Eileen Burgin, Gill Farnden, Peter Driscoll and Carol Driscoll gave their time to perform some of Bob’s favourite songs in uniform costumes.
Bob is finally, and proudly, in possession of his long-awaited medals after all these years. After receiving his medals, he said: “I am so surprised. I am absolutely speechless.”