Veteran celebrates 80th anniversary of D-Day at Bridge House

Veteran celebrates 80th anniversary of D-Day at Bridge House zoom

A veteran who helped in the D-Day landings has celebrated the 80th anniversary of the historic day with fellow residents at Bridge House.

Dennis Charlton claimed to be older than he was in order to sign up with the army in 1940 and served until shortly after the end of World War II in 1945.

Though not actively involved in the D-Day landings, the 100-year-old played an important role in planning the pivotal moment while stationed in Eastbourne and also served in various capacities during the war.

“At the time it was obviously an exciting time and I wanted to go to fight but I was young and didn’t quite have a realisation of what a huge deal it would become,” he said.

“We all felt a big sense of duty and thinking it was the right thing to do. I look back on my life and think I have been very lucky, in the right place and the right time. But the main thing is that I have enjoyed my life.

“You have to cherish the things that have happened that are good for you and you really have enjoyed. Forget the bad moments if you can.

“I’ve always been an optimist and tried never be pessimistic. I feel like I could go on for quite a few more years, that’s optimism.”

During the war he commanded anti tank weapons and afterwards managed a prisoner of war camp, arranged the re-opening of ski chalets in Chamonix, France, as well as being tasked with getting refugees safely back to Poland.

His can do attitude saw him become the oldest person in England to get a hole in one at golf aged 96 and his outlook on life has inspired his family – including son Nick.

“There are always difficulties and traumas in life and it’s never straight forward but Dad has always seen the positives and has always come through everything in a very strong way,” he said.

“It’s always been a great lesson to me and I’ve learned a lot from his approach to life.”

Dennis celebrated the anniversary with fellow residents at the 71-bed home, which provides high quality residential, nursing, dementia and palliative care, with a special visit from RAF Station Commander Claire O’Grady.

Riverly Club and Lifestyles manager, Chantelle Merritt said: “Dennis’ stories and experiences are a joy to listen to and he has lived such an incredible life.

“It’s important to maintain that connection with history and ensure that new generations are able to understand and recognise the sacrifices made by veterans like Dennis.”

Care home manager Anita Radecka added: “It is an honour to have Dennis with us at Bridge House. His bravery and contributions during the war are truly inspiring, and we are privileged to celebrate this significant anniversary with him.”