Martham resident overjoyed with Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers visit on 102nd birthday after Great Yarmouth maritime festival visit

PUBLISHED: 14:20 12 September 2017

Harry Coleman is joined by REME soldiers on his 102nd birthday. Picture: Jackie Chew

Harry Coleman is joined by REME soldiers on his 102nd birthday. Picture: Jackie Chew

Jackie Chew

A former soldier was treated to a special military visit on his 102nd birthday, after a chance meeting at the Maritime Festival.

Harry Coleman, who turned 102 on September 10, went to the festival in Great Yarmouth the day before his birthday and was delighted to see a marquee for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) - his former regiment.

He was then given full VIP treatment in the marquee, sharing stories of his time in the regiment and was given a dog tag with his name and old number by staff sergeant Gus Goodall.

However, the kindness did not stop there, as the next day Staff Sgt Goodall and two of his men showed up to his care home in Martham to help him celebrate his big day.

Jackie Chew, one of Mr Coleman’s six children, said: “He told the staff sergeant their gifts were a lovely birthday present and he asked if he was having a party.

“We told him about it, but never expected them to show up. They brought him a beautiful regimental flag and stayed for around an hour-and-a-half.

“Dad was absolutely over the moon that they took the time from their busy schedules to visit him.”

Father-of-six Mr Coleman lives at Ealing House in Martham, and celebrated his birthday with family members, as well as the REME trio.

Ms Chew added: “With the Martime Festival going on they no doubt had a busy weekend, so it really was an honour that they took the time to visit him.

“I think they were all really fascinated to meet something from the regiment of his age and to know he was still around. They really seemed to enjoy themselves and my father certainly did.”

Mr Coleman served in the REME during the Second World War, but had not kept in touch with many people he served alongside. However, he still recalls his identification number.

“The visit really was something my dad will never forget,” Ms Chew, 75, said. “We’re so grateful.”

Mr Coleman spent 41 years working as a fitter for Ford before retiring, and was born in Barking. As well as being a father-of-six, he has seven grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and four great-great-granchildren.

His daughter now lives in Rollesby, the same village she was evacuated to during the war.

The role of the REME is to maintain, repair and manufacture equipment.

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