Veteran Len Howes who lost both brothers in the war receives surprise visit from British Legion on 99th birthday

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A war veteran from Chorley who lost both his brothers and is now in a wheelchair received a surprise for his 99th birthday last Saturday as ex-comrades paid him a visit.

Len Howes was overwhelmed and shed a few tears at his birthday surprise of the British Legion turning up on his doorstep.

Explaining how it all came to fruition, Len's niece Tracy said: "Len does not get out much due to his mobility so when he was turning 99 my husband got in touch with the local British Legion who have gone above and beyond to do something special for him on is birthday.

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"What the British Legion do for the veterans is amazing. They made it so special for Len. They got him a cake and gave him a veteran badge.

An emotional Len with his medals.An emotional Len with his medals.
An emotional Len with his medals.

"My uncle is such an amazing man and it was nice to show him that people do remember."

Len has suffered many tragedies over the course of his life - having lost his mother and his two brothers.

Jack died in action and would have been 100, while Frank who would have been 97 was in the Merchant Navy when his ship went down at sea.

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He also has a 90-year-old stepbrother called Ron who lives in London Way in Preston and keeps in touch with.

99-year-old ex war veteran Len Howes.99-year-old ex war veteran Len Howes.
99-year-old ex war veteran Len Howes.

His mother died when he was three, and him and his brothers were then placed in an orphanage when their father could not cope or afford to keep him and his siblings.

At 17 years' old he was called up to the Army where he went on to raids across the channel in a navel liberty boat.

Describing the making of him, Len recalls: "I remember a four foot drop on them and when it was my turn to jump off the waves went up the front of the boat and I landed in six foot water.

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"My sergeant major dragged me up and said "Come on son you have to fight a war."

Some of Len's ex comrades who surprised him on his birthday.Some of Len's ex comrades who surprised him on his birthday.
Some of Len's ex comrades who surprised him on his birthday.

He went on to become a royal engineer in the British Army which included jobs not for the faint hearted such as detonating explosives and sweeping mines.

When in Tunisia Len and his squad were under fire by the Germans. The tank they were was hit with the shrapnel damaging Len in his lower back/bottom, leaving him in a hospital tent being tended to for two weeks - the severe scars of which still hold the memory on his skin.

In 1945 the war finished and he was able to return home where he met Dorothy and they bought a house together in Hereford and were with each other for 25 years until she sadly passed away in 2014.

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Not wanting to be on his own, Len then moved to Chorley to live with Dorothy's sister Jean where he still resides reminiscing about a life full of highs and lows.

He said: "I have been through the war and seen so many good men die. That will never leave me.

"The best outcome of all of it was freedom."

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