Caerphilly care home residents recall stories from the war ahead of Remembrance DayHC-One’s Trafalgar Park care home, in Nelson, Caerphilly, are preparing for Remembrance Day in November and colleagues have been chatting to residents Dennis Stevens and Gwyneth Lambert about their experience throughout the Second World War, and their stories are fascinating.

Dennis, who turned 98 earlier this year, recalls that he loved being a Marksman in the army, and trained as a sniper.

Unfortunately, a lot of Dennis’ photos have been lost over the years, but he was able to dig out a couple and the story is truly unique. The photograph of Dennis and his comrades was taken in Stellenbosch, in the Netherlands (formerly Holland). 
Dennis said:
“The street was the main street in the town and there were German snipers hiding down the alley.”
“I don’t remember seeing any army photographers on that day, as they were so fast at taking out their cameras and putting them back away.”

The group of young men were running as fast as they could across the road, in an attempt not to get shot. Dennis is the gentleman at the front of the photo, running across the road and carrying a machine gun on his back. 

Dennis was then in Germany for a total of seven years, it was here that he fell in love with Analisa, and they had a daughter called Ingrid. Dennis recalls how his daughter used to call him ‘Papa’. After that, Dennis never returned to Germany or Normandy but when he spoke to fellow veterans who visited earlier in the year, they wanted to arrange to take Dennis back to Normandy, as he often talks about this. 

On 3rd March this year, Dennis marked his 98th birthday at Trafalgar Park care home. Lots of people from the community attended the event including Woody’s Lodge (who are a local support group for veterans), local veterans, the mayor, and Caerphilly Council. As well as his fellow residents and colleagues who made the day extra special for him. 

Dennis was surprised that so many people knew him, he said, 
“It is an amazing day, I’m famous!” 

He had a wonderful day and spoke about it for many days later. 

Fellow resident Gwyneth Lambert also has some memories from the war. She was born in Llansannor, a small village in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales, on 8th July 1919, just eight months after the first world war ended. She was one of six daughters and recalls how her parents always wanted a son but only had girls!

When asked about the war, Gwyneth can remember that she was at Llandaff Cathedral, in Cardiff, when World War II was declared and said that the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, had announced that Hitler had failed to respond to British demands to leave Poland. During this time, Gwyneth was looking after a little girl whose father worked in the Home Office. 

During the war, Gwyneth got married on 17th March 1940 (St Patrick’s Day). Her husband was in the army, joining at just 16 years old. Ten months after they got married, he was transferred to the Middle East. 

Gwyneth remembers that she could hear the difference between German bombers and British bombers, with the German bombs making a drone noise. 

Gwyneth was a Nurse during the war, working with the Red Cross in the army hospital. She does not remember what she was doing on VE day, but she does recall having such a huge relief!

When the war was over, Gwyneth’s husband came home, and their daughter was born 10 months later. 

Joan Thomas, Home Manager at Trafalgar Park care home, commented:
“It is an honour and privilege to be part of the care team that supports Dennis and Gwen. Their thoughts, and comments echo what a frightening and uncertain time this period must have been and how very lucky us, younger generation are, that we had such dedicated and committed people fighting for us.”

To mark Remembrance Day this year, Trafalgar Park care home are having entertainment, including war-themed songs and a sing-along which the residents are very much looking forward to.