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War veteran reunited with military vehicle from WW2 to honour Armistice Day

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A Leatherhead care home resident was surprised to be reunited with the military vehicle she drove during World War Two after the care home surprised her to mark Armistice Day.  

Joan Johnson, 97 a year-old resident at Care UK’s Liberham Lodge, on Rectory Lane, couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw her Bedford 3 ton with its number 41 badge, parked outside her home.  

 

The surprise visit formed part of the home’s week-long Armistice Day remembrance activities, which have seen residents reminisce on the War effort and commemorate British service members.

Residents have enjoyed talks from the home’s Deputy Manager, Natasha Webster, and her husband, Peter Webster, who travel to different military shows to acquire WW2 memorabilia. Residents were able to handle different items from the War, including uniforms, helmets and ration packs. 

Joan was 17 when she joined the woman’s Land Army, at just 18 when she transferred to join the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1943 as a Driver. Her first posting was in Scotland, where she spent six weeks at an assessment centre, training for her service. 

After passing her tests, Joan was posted to Camberley driving centre, the same centre the Queen did her training, where she learned to drive a variety of vehicles, including dodge trucks, jeeps, Bedford 3-ton truck and BSA M20 motorbikes. 

During the War, Joan served as a convoy driver which saw her take vehicles to the coast throughout 1944 in the run-up to the D-Day landings. Joan would wake at 6am to transport the vehicles, before returning in the evening in a lorry with other fellow servicewomen, where they would sit on wooden benches singing on the way back to camp. 

Joan left the army after three years of service at the end of 1946 to pursue a career in the Home Office as a Personal Assistant. It was here that Joan met her husband, Johnny Johnson, who was a Captain in the Army. The two married on 3 May 1952 and had two children and five grandchildren. 

Commenting on the surprise, Joan said: “I felt emotional seeing the vehicle again. It made me realise my life has been quite eventful! I felt very proud that I was able to help with the War effort with my driving.”

Natasha Webster, Deputy Manager at Liberham Lodge, said: “We wanted to do something special to mark this year’s Armistice Day at Liberham Lodge, and to remember those who have served in the armed forces, including Joan. 

“We were delighted to be able to surprise Joan with her military vehicle, which brought back many memories. Her face lit up when she saw the vehicle close-up, and fellow residents were astounded by the knowledge she had of its mechanics. 

“It was fantastic to hear Joan’s stories and hear the memories of residents growing up in wartime Britain and serving their country. We’d like to say a big thank you to residents for sharing their memories with us; they reminded us just how lucky we were not to have experienced a conflict of this scale in our lifetime.” 

Designed to enable residents to live active and fulfilled lives, while also promoting independence, Care UK incorporates space for hobby and leisure activities. The layout of the home has been configured to help facilitate the creation of close-knit communities and encourage social interaction among the residents.

To find out more about Liberham Lodge, please email Vicky Radmore, Home Admissions Advisor on Victoria.Radmore@careuk.com, call 01372 887982 or visit careuk.com/liberham-lodge  

Open to new residents

Rectory Lane, Little Bookham , Leatherhead, Surrey, KT23 4DY

Liberham Lodge

CQC Rating: Good
  • Residential care
  • Dementia care
  • Nursing care
  • Respite care
  • End of life care
  • Nursing dementia care
  • Day club

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