December 10 2013 Latest news:
Monday, August 26, 2013
Family and friends from near and far gathered to help a Battle of Britain veteran celebrate his 100th birthday.
More than 100 packed into the Gaywood Church Rooms in King’s Lynn yesterday to join Charles Stokes, whose RAF career included a spell looking after Douglas Bader’s Hurricane at Duxford, in 1940.
Before he cut his cake, Mr Stokes, who lives in Gaywood Hall Drive, said: “I’m having a lovely day. I got lots of books and cards and I’ve got some donations for the air ambulance.”
After welcoming guests, Mr Stokes introduced his children Peter, Jean, David and Julie.
“I’m very proud of all my family,” he said.
David Stokes taped his father’s recollections of his life after his mother Florence died in 2009 and wrote a biography, copies of which were given to party-goers.
“We’re particularly proud of him not just because he’s 100, but because he’s got to 100 in such remarkable shape,” he said.
“His first memory was a Zeppelin flying over in 1915 or 1916 on its way to bomb King’s Lynn, he saw the Blitz in London, and he remembers the introduction of electricity in Norfolk.
“He’s lived through this huge period of change, he’s survived it very well and he’s shown me how to survive, which is not to let yourself be changed by it all.”
Mr Stokes, who was born in Lynn’s Diamond Street, worked at Johnsons Garage in St James Street before joining the RAF.
He saw service in the ground crew at Duxford, Foulsham and Douai, in northern France, after the Normandy landings. He was mentioned in despatches for his “exemplary” devotion to his duties.
Mr Stokes was demobbed in 1945, after which he worked as a Calor gas salesman, had a stint at the old Lynn Muck Works and Dow Chemicals, before retiring in 1978. He has 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.