A Second World War veteran who fought his way through Europe and helped liberate Brussels is being honoured by the Queen.
Bill Evans, 91, was thrilled to be invited to the garden party at Buckingham Palace to celebrate Her Majesty’s 90th birthday.
The ex-Royal Welsh Fusilier, a resident of Pendine Park’s Gwern Alyn Care Home in Wrexham, has asked his favourite senior care practitioner Mandy Williams to share his big day on May 26.
A native of Kerry near Newtown, Bill joined the army in 1943 and saw action in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.
He recalled: “I arrived in Southampton just after D-Day, and we were told we were going to Normandy.
“We fought our way through to the Faliese Gap where the Germans had us pinned down for three weeks. I witnessed some terrible sights.
“We went through Belgium, we helped liberate Brussels and went back after the war for a parade and were given the freedom of the city. That was marvellous.
“We went through Holland, places like Amsterdam and Rotterdam on our way to Bremen. When the war ended in Europe we were told we were going to America to join up with the Americans to invade Japan.
“The war was very difficult and I have a lot of very painful memories. I survived by using intelligence and being careful.
“It was a case of kill or be killed, I never thought too much about it when I was younger but I think about it a lot now. It is very difficult and I get very upset sometimes when the memories come back.
“I lost so many friends, good young men, It just wasn’t right. I still remember my number, 14635666.
“Everyone said I’d get killed having three sixes at the end of my number and there were many times I came close but I survived. I was one of the lucky ones.”
After the war and his military service ended, Bill returned to mid Wales before working on a farm at Eardiston, Shropshire.
He said “I married my first wife, Doris, and we had two sons. John, 55, and lives in Birmingham and Robert, 50, who lives in Ludlow. John has three children.
“I lived with my second wife, Violet, for 30 years until she died four years ago. I miss her so much.”
“We are going to have a great day in London though. I decided to ask Mandy to come with me as it’s an invitation for two. She is always so good to me – they all are at Gwern Alyn in truth. I’ve just got a soft spot for Mandy.
“I hope to meet the Queen but it doesn’t matter we will still have a lovely day even if we don’t. We are going on the train which will make it even better; it’s a long way to drive.
“And you never know, I might just meet up with someone I served with during the war, wouldn’t that be something after all these long years?”
Mandy, who lives in Wrexham and has worked for Pendine Park for seven years is looking forward to accompanying Bill on his big day out.
She said: “It’s so excited and it really is an honour to be going with Bill and sharing in his day.
“I was so shocked when he asked me but so pleased too. We are going on the train and, while it’s going to be a fantastic experience for us both, it’s all about Bill and what he did during the war.
“I’m there to help him and make sure he is safe. Although he has his wits about him and will no doubt more look after me!”
Gwern Alyn manager Jen Roberts was delighted Bill had been invited to the Queen’s birthday celebration garden party.
She said: “It’s wonderful for him and richly deserved. Bill is an amazing and lovely man who deserves recognition for the sacrifices he made during the war years.
“I’m sure he will have a wonderful time in London and I’m so thrilled he has asked one of our senior care practitioners, Mandy Williams, to go with him.
“That’s a lovely gesture and I think just shows how much Bill enjoys living here at Gwern Alyn and what our staff and in particular Mandy, mean to him.”