December 5 2013 Latest news:
Monday, August 26, 2013
The family of a Norwich war hero who spearheaded a 20-year campaign to revitalise the city’s war memorial has been overwhelmed with tributes since his death last week.
At a family gathering yesterday, relatives of Raymond Self remembered him as a people person, a dedicated family man, and someone who devoted his retirement to the Royal Naval Association.
Mr Self, who was known as Ray, was raised in Swanton Abbott, near North Walsham, before his family moved to Norwich when he was 12. He lived in the city for the rest of his life.
He joined the Home Guard during the second world war, and his sons fondly recalled stories of the time he opened fire on an enemy aircraft over the city and missed, instead shooting out the windows of Jarrold’s Printing Works, but put the blame on the plane.
At the age of 16 he lied about his age to enlist in the Royal Navy, and was involved in the Normandy landings and was based in Singapore when it fell to the Allies.
He once had a near-death experience when he opened the breach of an anti-aircraft gun too early, and it recoiled back into him, rupturing his spleen.
In another incident, his ship was anchored a mile off shore in Burma when it came under nighttime attack from a sniper, and the captain told Mr Self to fire back until it stopped. He did, and only discovered the following morning he had wiped out a whole village.
After the war, he became a lorry driver, starting off delivering sweets and tobacco for Leveridge Brothers, and then working for SPD for 36 years.
His youngest son Richard said: “The war, up to the time he retired, it was not really a big part of his life. Those were the family years. When he retired, then he needed another interest. He just got into the Royal Naval Association and it took him over and it became his work.”
He and his colleagues gave talks at schools and raised money through collections, but his lasting legacy is the war memorial, which re-opened in 2011 after a £2.6m refurbishment.
It was turned to face City Hall after a campaign by Mr Self and others so they could salute it as they paraded past.
His son Deryck recalled his father’s tears at the re-opening ceremony, and said his favourite saying was that you get back what you give out.
His granddaughter Emma said she remembered his reaction when she introduced him to a Japanese friend.
She said: “I always remember the first thing he did was go over to her and say ‘I’m so sorry about the war. I’m so sorry for what happened to your people.’ I thought it was amazing that after everything he went through, he felt the need to say that to her.”
He met his wife Rhoda at Sunday School, and she said they never argued in 63 years of marriage. They have three sons, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
His funeral service will be held at St Faiths Crematorium on Thursday, August 29 at 3.30pm.