War veteran from Buckshaw Village makes a visit to remember

John Dowling went on the seven-day break with his daughter Maggie Harrison, 68, and grandson doctor Ian Blessey, 38.
John Dowling went on the seven-day break with his daughter Maggie Harrison, 68, and grandson doctor Ian Blessey, 38.
Share this article
0
Have your say

Second World War veteran John Dowling from Buckshaw Village has made a remembrance trip to Normandy.

The former Royal Marine signaller took part in the D-Day landings and worked using the Morse Code during the conflict.

John, who celebrated turning 97 on the trip, went on the seven-day break with his daughter Maggie Harrison, 68, and grandson doctor Ian Blessey, 38 .

Maggie said: “I think it was important for my Dad to visit Normandy again and we all really appreciated the funding made available for veterans to pay their last respects.

“It was extra special for us to celebrate Dad’s birthday in the company of friends and colleagues whilst we were there.

“His career in the Royal Marines played a big part in his life, and despite the dementia, he still tells stories of the war and his time in the Royal Marines and of the time he spent courting my mum.

“The trip brought back some happy and some sad memories, however it was great to experience the camaraderie between these elderly gentlemen.

“It was very poignant visiting several of the immaculately maintained war cemeteries.”

The trip included tours of the Juno, Gold and Omaha beaches, sharing tales with other people who had experienced the war at Pegasus or Horsa Bridge and a visit to Arromanches Museum where the veterans were presented with a medal.

The construction of Mulberry harbour, temporary portable harbours developed by the British during the Second World War, was explained and visitors were able to see what remains today, as well as a trip to Bayeux which is famous for its tapestry and cathedral.

John now lives with his wife Isobel, 95, at The Lodge, a dementia care home within Buckshaw Retirement Village.

The couple met in Dundee during the Second World War.

John broke his ankle during training in Dundee and Isobel nursed him back to health and they have been inseparable ever since.

During the war John, who was originally from London, worked as a signaller for the Royal Marines, including working with Morse Code and flag signalling, also taking part in the 1944 D-Day landings.

After several failed attempts to tie the knot due to John’s commitment to the Royal Marines during the war, John and Isobel went on marry in Dundee in 1944.

They then spent some time travelling and eventually settled down in Plymouth.

The happy couple went on to have children Helen, Maggie, Ian and Sally.

Tragically, Ian passed away when he was 18 months old from leukaemia and Sally passed away at nine years old from spina bifida.

John and Isobel moved to Buckshaw Village to live at The Lodge, and now enjoy spending their time with other residents, taking part in activities and entertainment. They also enjoy visits from their children, five grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

The devoted couple are due to celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary on Saturday, December 16.

John’s trip was organised through the Royal British Legion and paid for with LIBOR funding.