Halesworth veteran to meet nephew of war friend killed in action
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016
A newspaper story and a chance find online has reunited a Halesworth war veteran with the nephew of his best friend who was killed during the second world war.
Bryan Samain, 91, was an officer with 45 Royal Marine Commando and served with lieutenant Peter Winston, who sadly died in action in January 1945.
The pair trained together as officer cadets in the Royal Marines and became firm friends, leading Mr Samain to dedicate his book Commando Men to his late comrade.
Mr Winston's nephew, also named Peter Winston, visited his uncle's grave for the first time in Holland last year, which prompted an online search for extra information.
And after stumbling across an article written about Mr Samain in last year's Beccles and Bungay Journal he decided to purchase his book, finding the ode to his relative inside.
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Mr Winston contacted the Journal who put him in touch with Mr Samain, and on Thursday, November 10, he will be making the long journey from his home in Limington, Somerset, to meet up with his uncle's best friend for lunch at The Angel in Halesworth.
He said: 'I was just absolutely delighted when The Journal gave my details to Bryan and he rang me. Peter's story is something we have been investigating for years but I had no idea that Bryan was Peter's best friend and I was so surprised he had dedicated his book to him. He's also the only soldier I know who served with him.
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'I'm coming up the night before and staying somewhere and then I'm meeting Bryan and his two sons for lunch. It will be lovely to fill in some of the gaps in Peter's story that I don't know. My grandmother received some letters from members of the French Resistance after the war to say that they helped her son and that they were so sorry he was killed in action.'
Mr Winston was just 20 when he was killed in Holland on January 28, 1945. He had been brought up in Croydon and had excelled at all sports.
Mr Samain said: 'When we were commissioned at the end of 1943 we went into the Royal Marines Commandos, but we did part company for a time before we were reunited the following year when we were both in the 45 unit.
'He had an absolutely remarkable adventure. He parachuted into France the night before D Day but he was dropped in the wrong place and together with an RAF squadron leader he was helped by the resistance to get across France from Normandy to Bordeaux. When he got to Bordeaux he was due to be met by the head of the French Resistance but it turned out to be the head of the Gestapo and he was flung into prison.'
Mr Samain's book goes on to describe how Mr Winston was moved across France by truck and managed to escape before being rescued and brought back to England. He later rejoined the 45 Commando before his untimely death.
'As an intelligence officer in the unit I took down first hand what happened to him and it went into my book. I was so pleasantly surprised when I got the call from the Beccles and Bungay Journal to say that Peter had been in touch. It is genuinely down to the paper that all this has happened.'