Re­mem­bered with hon­our

MIL­I­TARY MAN WAS RE­CIP­I­ENT OF LE­GION D’HONNEUR

Uxbridge Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - LOIS SWINNERTON by lois.swinnerton@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @Lois Swinnerton

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.

PHOTOS: STEVE PORTER

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