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Ray Whitwell: 'I was lucky, I got missed all the time', BBC

Raymond Whitwell, from Malton in North Yorkshire, was born in 1919 and conscripted into the Royal Army Service Corps in late 1939.

He was sent to Belgium as a lorry driver, delivering fuel to front-line units.

In May 1940, Raymond formed part of the defence of Dunkirk against the advancing Germans. Instead of waiting to be evacuated, he drove inland to Lille, from where he caught a train to Cherbourg, and managed to get a lift in a Dutch fishing boat back to England.

He and his unit converted to paratroops in 1941, joining the 1st Airborne Division, and fought in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.

In September 1944 he landed in Arnhem, again evading capture as survivors retreated across the Rhine.

Now 103, he has returned to Dunkirk and Arnhem numerous times since the war, enjoying the warm welcomes of grateful French and Dutch citizens.


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