Barking D-Day hero

PERHAPS when you pin a poppy on to your chest and think about the bravery it represents you will spare a thought for Bernard Telfer, too. Because this Barking born-and-bred lad certainly thought of England while storming the beaches of Italy and Normandy

PERHAPS when you pin a poppy on to your chest and think about the bravery it represents you will spare a thought for Bernard Telfer, too.

Because this Barking born-and-bred lad certainly thought of England while storming the beaches of Italy and Normandy to defend her against the Nazis.

Mr Telfer, now 87, joined the Navy at 20 and was called up to serve at HMS Ganges.

"When we were at sea we would all talk about home," he said. "We dreamt of our loved ones and I wondered what my destiny would be, and how long would elapse before I should see the shores of England again."

In 1943, Bernard sailed to Italy and was part of the landings at Salerno and Anzio.

And then, on June 6, 1944, he was part of the most historic and important day of World War Two - D-Day.

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Bernard landed at Arromanches aboard a Canadian landing craft carrying tanks and other equipment to the French shore. "We were in the Channel for three days before the invasion," he said.

"We had some French money and a letter from General Eisenhower saying 'this is the big one, the only one to go down in history.' There were around 15,000 ships in the Channel that day."

In July, 1945, Bernard sailed from Falmouth to Gibraltar and had the good fortune to visit exotic places like Casablanca, Oran, Malta, Sicily, Alexander, Port Said, Suez, Benghazi and Cairo.

Unlike some of his friends, Bernard survived the war and left the Navy in 1946 in Greenock, Scotland, having reached the rank of Petty Officer.

When he returned to Barking, he took up his old job with rubber manufacturers William Warne and Co's sports sales department.

Bernard said: "While I was at Westbury School, Barking, I showed an ability in sport which was to shape my ife.

"I worked in sports sales and then my career really started to take off in the Fifties when I joined Barking Bowling Club."

In 1965 Bernard was elected President of the London Parks' Bowling Association and in 1972 was appointed Chief Executive of the national governing body for indoor bowling.

He spent 20 years in that role and enjoyed every minute, particularly the functions where he would get the chance to ballroom dance with his beloved Violet.

The couple were married for 50 years until Violet sadly passed away in October, 2006.

"She was an expert ballroom dancer," said Bernard. "I had to take private lessons so I could dance with her. But there isn't anything you wouldn't do for love.

"Violet was my loyal, loving wife and now that she is gone life can be very lonely."

Bernard met Violet at a friend's wedding in Barking in 1955, where, fate would have it, they sat next to each other at the reception.

The pair hit it off straight away and the rest is history.

"I said to her 'I take it you are from Barking too' and she said 'no I'm from Tooting''', laughed Bernard.

"And then I said 'my God, you mean I have to take you all the way home to Tooting tonight'. A year later we married."

Just before retirement from the English Indoor Bowling Association in 1992, Bernard received "the ultimate honour" of becoming national president.

He said: "At that time we had grown to include more than 300,000 members. It truly was the ultimate honour for me."

In his later years, Bernard travelled to Spain with Violet.

The couple fell in love with the country and the culture and spent 26 consecutive holidays there.

Now, aged 87 and still living in his beloved home town, Bernard reads the POST every week and says he can't wait to see his own story in print.

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