Remembered with honour
CROWDS GATHER FOR FUNERAL OF HILLINGDON WAR HERO
MORE than one hundred people gathered in Hillingdon for the funeral of a local hero on Wednesday August 23.
Second World War veteran Peter Chesney died at the age of 93 and, despite having no living relatives, crowds of people attended his funeral including friends, staff from Hayes Cottage Nursing Home, members of the police, Mayor of Hillingdon Carol Melvin and members of the Royal Artillery.
The local biking group were also on hand, riding Harley Davidson bikes behind the hearse and the British Legion supported with the funeral preparations.
Mr Chesney’s next of kin Suki Sandhu was overwhelmed by the turnout at the funeral of the man she treated as an adopted grandfather.
She has known Mr Chesney all her life, living just across the road from him, and said: “Pete was a character so unique, he was very charismatic. He could speak to anybody no matter what age they were. He was a very social person and he had a unique sense of humour.”
She added: “He loved his Guinness. He had a Guinness every day and that’s something that was a must and I was forever going to get him cases that would last him. “I think that was his last drink.” Mr Chesney, who was an only child, was born in Battersea on January 10 1924 and when he was around five or six years old, his family moved to Southall, where Mr Chesney continued to live until just a few years ago, when he moved to Hayes Cottage Nursing Home.
He joined the military at the age of just 18 and bravely took part in the two-month Battle of Caen, in August 1944, before he fought his way through France, Holland and then into Germany
The veteran had previously said: “I knew that I’d have to join the services when I was 18 and I was called over to Acton to register. I wanted to join the RAF because they had a shirt and tie – but they were full. “Everyone wanted to join the RAF.” He was instead called up to 109 Battery, 33 Field Regiment The Royal Artillery in 1943.
To his delight, in 2014 he received the highest French military honour, the Legion D’Honneur, for his part in the D-Day landings.
When the war was over Mr Chesney took up work as a driver for Bentalls and he lived with his parents, looking after them as they grew older. He grew close to his neighbours at the time, in particular a woman named Jean, whose family continued to visit him after they moved to Norwich.
Suki recently asked him why he never married, to which he responded: “Well, I knew a few ladies but their husbands didn’t like me”, a clear example of his great sense of humour.