On Thursday 28 July, Alfie ‘Fred’ Lee, from Odiham in Hampshire, a much-loved member of the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, died at home with his family at his bedside.
Born on 30 July 1926, Fred married Joyce in 1947 and they had three children: Kevin, Karen, and Katrina.
A D-Day veteran, Fred had two brothers in the Navy and one a paratrooper, and the family was blessed that they all returned from the war. Fred volunteered in August 1943, aged 17, and spent the war as a stoker in the Royal Navy. He was awarded the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest military honour.
When asked a couple of years ago to recall a couple of memories from his 13 months in the Far East, Fred shared these two anecdotes with the Taxi Charity.
“We went to Bombay via Aiden on HMS Nith and when we were in Bombay, we picked up five landing craft to take to Rangoon. Unbelievably, my brother Frank was on one of the landing craft! I hadn’t seen him or heard from him for a long time and had no idea that we had both been involved in D-Day in Normandy a year earlier.”
“During my two weeks leave in the Himalayas, I was keeping goal during a football match between the Navy and the Army and was hit between the legs by the ball and ended up in Bombay hospital. While in hospital, my ship was due to leave port and my Petty Officer visited me in hospital and said, ‘Stoker Lee, here’s your kit bag and a train ticket. Get yourself to Madras.’ Following orders, I had a very hot and fly-ridden 12-hour train journey, on my own to Madras, where I re-joined the ship.”
Fred’s family said: “As well as his family, Fred treasured his friends. Always greeting them with a big smile, handshake or a hug. So many people are missing him. He was a lovely man.”
Dick Goodwin, vice president of the Taxi Charity, said: “For as long as I can remember, Fred has been with us on our Taxi Charity trips. As well as being an important part of the Taxi Charity family, he was a popular member of the Surrey branch of the Normandy Veterans Association. Always positive and smiling, he will be greatly missed by us all.”