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How we helped Second World War veterans attend memorial event

Arthur Bland and Ray Cumbley attend a memorial trip to battlefields of Europe with support of Red Cross wheelchairs

Veterans Ray Cumbley, 96, and Arthur Bland, 95, both served with the Welsh Guards during the Second World War. 

Each year, the Welsh Guard Association arranges a memorial trip to the battlefields of Europe where veterans are able to pay homage to their fallen comrades.    

Brian Keane, secretary general at the Association, explained: “Both gentlemen experienced heavy fighting in France and Belgium during the war, losing many of their friends. It is particularly poignant for them to revisit every year and lay a wreath.” 

This year though – without wheelchairs – Ray and Arthur wouldn’t have been able to make the trip to the war grave cemeteries. That’s when they turned to the British Red Cross for help.

Wheelchair support

Brian contacted our mobility aids team in Llanelli to see if we could help the veterans attend the memorial trip.

He said: “When I contacted the Red Cross to explain the situation, they were more than happy to help out.”

We provided two wheelchairs for Ray and Arthur to use throughout their trip.

Tears in their eyes

They were overjoyed. It had been many years since they had been able to lay poppy crosses at the headstones of their fallen comrades.

Brian said: “It brought tears to their eyes that they could actually gain access to the war graves.

“On behalf of the Association, I personally wish to thank the Red Cross for their generosity and helping to put a smile in the faces of two lovely gentlemen.”

In Arras, France, Ray was able to visit the Welsh Guard plaque. He toured the vicinity, thanks to a few of the younger generation, who took turns pushing the wheelchair.

Ray said: “It is the best tour I have ever been on, since I don’t have to worry about walking any distance. I would like the Red Cross to know how very grateful I feel.”

Delighted to help

Gareth Evans, mobility aids service coordinator in Llanelli, told us: “I’m delighted that our mobility aids service was able to help these veterans attend their tour to Europe.

“The service was first established during World War One to support wounded or sick military personnel.

“It seems fitting that we should also be there for Ray and Arthur, as they pay their respects to their comrades.”

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