97-year-old Vic­tor Chanter cap­tured the hearts of the na­tion as one of the Lark Hill Vil­lage res­i­dents on the tele­vi­sion se­ries Old Peo­ple’s Home For 4 Year Olds. The Dunkirk vet­eran tells JAMIE BAR­LOW about his ex­pe­ri­ence of war and los­ing com­rades


A 97-YEAR-OLD Royal Navy vet­eran who starred in a Chan­nel 4 tele­vi­sion se­ries has de­scribed what it was like to serve in the Sec­ond World War and the heart­break of los­ing close friends.

Vic­tor Chanter, who lives at Lark Hill Re­tire­ment Vil­lage, in Clifton, served as a vis­ual com­mu­ni­ca­tor, send­ing mes­sages to war ships.

The Dunkirk vet­eran, who also served in Rosyth, Ed­in­burgh, said there was a real ca­ma­raderie with those on board.

“It was a con­tin­u­a­tion of school time. You make friends, you have en­e­mies prob­a­bly – not many of them hope­fully,” he said.

“You blend to­gether – if you’re on a ship you have to work to­gether. That’s what it was all about.

“You had to have the run­ning-up ex­er­cises and things like that to get to know each other and how you fit in. If some­one’s lag­ging be­hind you, you cheer them up a bit.

“You miss those pals af­ter­wards. Es­pe­cially when the ship’s run­ning com­fort­ably, and it’s all do­ing well, you want to stay to­gether. Of course the skip­per does as well or the ad­mi­ral or who­ever’s in charge.”

He said he served on HMS Southamp­ton and HMS Galatea and also saw ser­vice in the Mediter­ranean.

He ad­mit­ted that when there were ca­su­al­ties he of­ten had no idea what hap­pened to his friends.

“It makes it very bad if it’s some­one you know,” he said.

“Some­times you don’t know if you’ve lost them or not. They’re in dif­fer­ent ships or even ashore and they get killed and you never hear

any more.

“There were cer­tain times when I knew be­cause I was in the con­voy ser­vice in the Mediter­ranean and you get al­lot­ted a tanker or some­thing like that to go as a li­ai­son as a sig­nal­man. You knew very well some­one had gone on a cer­tain ship.

“When that got hit, you thought: ‘I won­der if it’s got away who­ever he is.’ If it went down you prob­a­bly never found out what hap­pened to them – one of your mates or who­ever it was.

“But you knew the ship you’d been al­lot­ted to had gone down.

“You had no time to check-up on peo­ple like that. It’s a shame re­ally. You just thought: ‘Oh, I’ve lost an­other pal.’

“It hap­pened a lot in the Mediter­ranean. It was a real grave­yard, es­pe­cially around Greece and Crete.”

He was on standby for five years after the end of the war but was never called up again.

Mr Chanter ap­peared in the se­ries called Old Peo­ple’s Home For 4 Year Olds filmed at the re­tire­ment vil­lage, which is the largest in Bri­tain.

The pro­gramme cre­ated a nurs­ery in­side the care home where the res­i­dents took part in ac­tiv­i­ties with chil­dren and be­friended them as part of a so­cial ex­per­i­ment.

On the back of the show, he has been asked to go into schools and talk to pupils about his ex­pe­ri­ences.

Troops on board a Navy de­stroyer be­ing evac­u­ated from Dunkirk as part of Op­er­a­tion Dy­namo in June 1940.


Vic­tor Chanter, 97 of Lark Hill Vil­lage at The War Me­mo­rial in Vic­to­ria Em­bank­ment

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