War veteran tells of his life as a boy soldier for Norfolk poppy appeal
PUBLISHED: 12:58 28 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:16 31 October 2017
Copyright: Archant 2017
Norfolk children sat wide-eyed as they listened to local war veteran Jim Lycett talk about his experiences as a boy soldier in the 1950s.
The students from Wensum Junior School quizzed the former Gorleston resident at the launch of the Norfolk Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal in Norwich yesterday.
The RBL is hoping to top last year’s total, after their campaign, backed by the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, helped them to raise a staggering £700,000.
Mr Lycett now lives at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, but travelled back to his home county to launch the Norfolk Poppy Appeal, as well as answering questions about his time serving in Germany, Cyprus and Aden.
Jack Perkins, who is nine, asked whether war was scary.
“It was,” said Mr Lycett, 73. “But we didn’t think about it at the time. We were young, we wanted to be out there.”
Mr Lycett served in the Royal Signals, delivering messages between 1959 and 1984.
“Because we were communicators we weren’t on the front line very much. It was scary if we were stuck on a hill or similar; if you’re stuck in the middle of anywhere in a war you’re in danger. We were communicators yes, but we were soldiers first.”
Amelia Humphreys-Piercy, 11, asked: “What was your relationship like with the other soldiers?”
“It was like being at school when I first signed up, I was only 15,” said Mr Lycett. “We were in dorms and went to classes. We had holidays at Christmas, it wasn’t unlike being at boarding school.
“We used to play pranks on the nurses and all sorts; you couldn’t get away with it now.”
Mr Lycett now shares a home with other Chelsea veterans, which is funded by the government grants.
Norfolk’s equivalent care home Halsey House in Cromer, is funded by the Royal British Legion. Some of the money raised goes towards the running of it.
The RBL also funds Norfolk initiatives such as outreach nurses for veterans suffering with drug and alcohol abuse, as well as providing mobility scooters for elderly veterans.