The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans has taken the time to talk to their veterans about how they will mark Remembrance Sunday this year as the usual events in London are dramatically scaled back as we go back into lockdown.
Vic Needham Crofton, 87, from Greenford, would normally mark remembrance Sunday in London at the Cenotaph. Vic was in the Enniskillen Fusiliers and did tours of Cyprus, the Suez Canal and spent two years in Kenya.
In Kenya, Vic was a cook, and he fed his unit with left over WWII canned food, including bully beef, biscuits and bacon which he threw together in to a Dixie (a big pan) to make a thick stew. He also remembers enjoying the tinned jam and cheese sandwiches in the middle of jungle. His parents sent him the Daily Mirror publication of the Yellow Peril which they wrapped in a roll and he is still amazed that it always managed to reach him.
Vic was wounded in 1954 in Kenya when the lorry he was travelling in at night was shot from under him. The vehicle went over a cliff. The other two passengers managed to jump clear, but Vic couldn’t and was pinned for eight hours under the Cab. While trapped he was treated for his injuries by his unit as other men worked tirelessly to free him. Vic spent twelve weeks in hospital in Nairobi with a fractured skull and many cuts and bruises but was very fortunate to fully recover.
Vic Needham Crofton said: “On Remembrance Sunday I will be wearing a poppy beside my medals with immense pride that I was able to do my bit for my country and I will spend time thinking about those we have lost.”
Another veteran, Bill Parr, 87, from Hackney, enlisted with the Cameron Highlanders, (79th of Foot) and served in Suez. While there, the Sgt Major told them the Black Watch needed some soldiers and they were all being transferred and going to Korea.
Bill Parr said: “I have been attending the Field of Remembrance in London (which is normally held on the Thursday before Remembrance Sunday) for over thirty years but sadly this year will be very different.”
In Korea, Bill was involved in the Battles of the Hook. He says: “From the trenches they came at us in hordes banging lids and blaring bugles, we had to shoot them down while we were being shelled from behind.”
During the battle, Bill was wounded in the back and neck and was taken to hospital in Kure, Japan, by the Americans and finally taken home by boat - a journey which took four weeks and gave him time to recover.
Bill and Vic are collectors for the Taxi Charity, and Bill added: “Being part of the collection team gives me a reason to get out of bed and I have sorely missed our collections as well as the other Taxi Charity events which have had to be cancelled including the annual summer day trip to Worthing.”
Ian Parsons, Chairman of The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, said: "Both Vic and Bill are an important part of our team of collectors who attend our fundraising collections at London stations. They love chatting with the commuters who take the time to stop, donate and thank these men for their service. Our charity relies on donations to support veterans and we are so proud of our veteran collectors who want to help raise funds so that we can continue taking them on trips across the UK and the continent.”
The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans was formed in Fulham in 1948, to work for the benefit, comfort and enjoyment of military veterans and arranges many trips every year for veterans from all conflicts.
The charity offers international trips to The Netherlands, Belgium and France, UK day trips to concerts or museums, transport to attend fundraising events, as well as special days out to catch up with friends and comrades.
To fund and facilitate these outings, the charity is wholly reliant on generous donations from members of the public, businesses and trusts and the group of London licensed taxi drivers who offer their time and vehicles free.