War veteran finally gets his medals – 72 years after serving

Bill was presented with his medals at the annual Mais House fete by a Henry VIII lookalike. SUS-170506-133348001
Bill was presented with his medals at the annual Mais House fete by a Henry VIII lookalike. SUS-170506-133348001

A World War Two veteran has finally been awarded his medals 72 years after his military service ended.

Bill Goldstone, who lives at the British Legion Care Home in Hastings Road, was a driver with the Royal Suffolk Hussars and didn’t receive his medals from the War Office when he was demobbed in 1946.

Bill Goldstone (seated) and James Pyett at Mais House SUS-170506-132903001

Bill Goldstone (seated) and James Pyett at Mais House SUS-170506-132903001

But that oversight has been righted by his new best friend James Pyett, who lives next door to him in his room at Mais House. James, who is 92, used the internet to find the correct address and wrote to the Ministry of Defence on his buddy’s behalf.

And on Saturday, proud Bill was presented with his Defence and War medals – by a Henry VIII lookalike – at the annual Mais House fete in front of hundreds of cheering visitors and staff.

Bill said: “I was overlooked and I am not sure why. My best mate Jim applied for my medals and they were delivered on the day of the fete. I could not have been prouder.”

When James asked his new friend where his medals were, he wasn’t prepared to see his pal not be properly honoured for his wartime service.

James, who was also a driver during WW2 with the Royal Signals, said: “I got all the details of where and when he served and applied on his behalf because his eyesight isn’t up to much. We had the medals within a fortnight and now he can wear them proudly.”

Bill was training in Scotland for the D Day landings as part of an anti-aircraft battery when he fractured his leg and was ruled out of Operation Overlord. After weeks in a military hospital he was sent home and then to teach recruits at a driver training centre in Rhyl, North Wales.

James thinks this change of duty led to his name being missed from the Suffolk Hussars roll call and a possible reason for missing out on his medals after the Allied Victory.

The pair are now virtually inseparable and have a great deal in common.

“We were both Eastenders – I came from Limehouse and Bill from Peckham; we were both military drivers, we both ended up living in Surrey and now we have been given rooms next to each other here,” said James.

Bill added: “I think we were destined to meet. Making a new best friend at my age has really picked me up and I can honestly say I am happier here now than I have been for 15 years.”

Mais House is one of only six British Legion homes across the UK and every resident either served their country or had a spouse who was in military service.

The annual fete raises hundreds of pounds for the residents’ amenities fund and was graced by both British Legion Standard Bearers and the Legion Band along with King Henry, who opened the event, and the local Bexhill Carnival queen and princesses.

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