Gunta and I were very saddened to receive a call from Steve West last night to say that his Dad, Ken West died last Saturday. Ken served in the same Regiment as my Grandfather (11th Royal Scots Fusiliers across North West Europe in 1944-1945). When I wrote my book Ken was so generous with his time and excellent memories of those dark times. In the book I described him as my source of information and inspiration. The two of us feel truly honored to have spent some hours in this man's company listening to his stories that were always so well told.
We met on three occasions, but the most memorable was the first when, sporting his 'bling' blazer with the Legion D'Honneur topping his other campaign medals, as we parted he kissed Gunta and said 'You thought you were coming here to meet an old soldier but now you have kissed a French Knight!'.
Ken fought with the RSF in Normandy, receiving wounds in Fontenay from a phosphorus shell. He was an active member of the Normandy Veterans Association until is dissolution. With this in mind, when Owen and I were last in Normandy I bought a couple of bottles of Calvados, one of which I gave to Ken with a copy of my book. This evening we raised a glass of the Normandy spirit from our own bottle to Ken West..... Fusilier and friend!
Our thoughts are with Ken's family and many friends.
The photograph shows Ken on leave in Brussels in February 1945.