A STOURBRIDGE WWII hero will be quietly celebrating the 75th anniversary of VE Day this Friday.

David Howard, aged 95, is among just a handful of surviving veterans who remember Victory in Europe Day - May 8 1945 - which marked the end of six years of hostilities and bloodshed.

Born in South Wales, Mr Howard served with the Welsh Guards, Second Battalion Armoured Division, as a Cromwell Tank driver. After landing on Gold Beach in Normandy after D-Day, he and his comrades drove through eastern France and were part of the force that liberated Brussels in September 1944.

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They then ploughed on to the Netherlands as far as the Nijmegen Bridge near Arnhem.

Returning back to Belgium, he was active in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 and later travelled through to Cuxhaven submarine base northern Germany.

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His memories of VE Day remain vivid to this day. This photo, which shows him sitting on his tank in northern Germany, was taken that day.

The beer bottles, however, were empty as he is T-total!

Mr Howard, who was 18 when he signed up to join the Army, said: "I have very vivid memories. It happened all of a sudden. One minute it was war, the next minute it was all over."

He added: "You can't describe that feeling that you'd got through it in one piece."

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He returned to England in November 1945 and was demobbed from Chelsea Barracks in May 1946 back to his family in Wollaston.

On his return he proposed to his sweetheart Jean and the couple tied the knot in 1948 at St James's Church and they were married for nearly 70 years before Jean passed away three years ago.

The couple did not have children but shared a love of amateur dramatics and were involved with local groups including Enville Street Dramatic Society and Stourbridge Operatic Society for many years.

Mr Howard, who has also been involved in Scouting all his life, ran his own building maintenance business for many years and even built his own home in Norton, eventually moving around 12 months ago to Wyncroft Care Home in Kingswinford where he often regales relatives and staff with stories of his time in the forces.

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He said: "My memory is very good. I want to share these memories. I'm a voice from the past.

"I've lived a fun life. I'm in my twilight years and I hope to go on a bit longer yet."

Mr Howard, whose mother Ethel Howard lived to be 100, is the last surviving of seven boys. He has a surviving sister, Joy Ogrins, aged 87, as well as nieces, nephews and friends.

His niece Rosemary Hadley said: β€œHe remains bright through this terrible pandemic. However - since lockdown he misses the visits from his nieces, a nephew and friends.”

Due to the coronavirus lockdown and a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19 - residents at the home are having to isolate in their rooms and are not permitted to have visitors.

A copy of the Stourbridge News and some chocolate, however, continue to be sent each week to help keep his spirits up.

But lockdown means this year's milestone VE Day on Friday, therefore, will be one of quiet reflection.

Mr Howard said: "It's just myself and my memories. I'm not allowed visitors. I'm doing it on my own."

He said he would be looking at his old photographs and remembering lost comrades.