19 Jul 2017
A Second World War veteran who lives in Anchor’s Maple Dene care home in Moseley met Prince Harry at the world premiere of the film Dunkirk.
Les Gray, 98, who lives at Anchor’s Maple Dene care home in St Agnes Road, was among several former soldiers who met Prince Harry at the premiere in London on Thursday 13 July.
Mr Gray, who was a corporal with the Royal Engineers and the 4th Royal Infantry, said the film was a realistic interpretation of the horrors soldiers faced on the beach at Dunkirk in 1940.
Mr Gray, who attended the premiere with his partner, Peggy, and his family, will also be guest of honour at a special viewing of the film at the Odeon in Birmingham City Centre. Staff from Maple Dene have worked with the cinema so that Mr Gray and other residents from the Anchor home can watch the film together.
He said that he couldn’t really remember much about being on the beach in France apart from living in fear.
Mr Gray, who proudly wore his medals, including the Dunkirk Medal, to the premiere, said: “All I kept thinking about was how was I going to get out of this terrible situation. I was so scared.
“We were all so relieved to see the ships sent to rescue us. I remember that there were boats similar to trucks that had platforms on either side of them.
“You were only allowed on board if you brought two injured men with you. I managed to carry two injured soldiers onto the vessel and then we had to row the boat back to the ships waiting about a mile out to see. We were picked up by HMS Salamander.
“I enjoyed going to the premiere. The film was very realistic. Prince Harry is a nice young man. It’s the first time I’ve met a member of the Royal Family.”
Mr Gray, who also saw action in Italy and Belgium, both of which he received medals for, was among the 338,226 soldiers rescued from Dunkirk by 800 boats. After returning home he married his childhood sweetheart, Betty, in 1941. The Second World continued for another four years.