OLD BATTLEFIELDS REVISITED

Emotional return for West Country World War Two veteran...

A WEST Country veteran has made an emotional return to two Wiorld war Two battlefields.

May 18 marked the anniversary of the Italian battles of Anzio and Monte Cassino. A group of 12 veterans from the campaign, including 94-year-old Ron ‘Arthur’ Marsh from Bude, returned to pay their respects on a special tour funded by a charity rugby match and organised by Remembrance Travel, the travel arm of the Royal British Legion.

Hundreds of people helped to raise funds for the tour by supporting amateur rugby players to take on rugby legends, including former Welsh captain Colin Charvis, in matches organised by Remembrance Travel.

Nichola Rowland-Smith, Head of Travel Royal British Legion, said: “The Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy seems to be less well-known in the nation’s history, to other battles such as D Day, yet it was another pivotal turning point in bringing to an end World War Two.

“We have a wonderful opportunity to take back those who fought in Monte Cassino for them to pay their respects to fallen comrades. This means a great deal to Monte Cassino veterans and their families.”

Colin Charvis said: “It was a wonderful experience to take part in this match. We all knew about what happened at Normandy but for many of us it was a real eye-opener to discover what those guys did at Monte Cassino.

“We also shared some great stories between the teams, finding out what each other’s ancestors did in World War Two – it was a lovely chance to ensure their memories live on.”

Monte Cassino veterans fought in horrendous conditions, on exposed hilltop slopes, coming under heavy artillery fire, knee-deep in mud and snow.

Surviving veterans are now in their 90s.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.