Ex-soldier whose dad died in the Second World War hangs family flag last raised at the first VE Day

A VETERAN soldier, whose father died during the Second World War, has dusted off a family relic on VE Day to honour his dad’s sacrifice.

Friday, 8th May 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Friday, 8th May 2020, 5:49 pm
Proud Tony Simms, 81, of Military Road, Hilsea, holding the flag he last displayed during VE Day on May 8, 1945.

Proud Tony Simms hung a flag commemorating the four Allied powers during the war from his sitting room window in Military Road, Hilsea, to mark today’s historic anniversary.

The heirloom featured the flags of China, the UK, USA and the Soviet Union and was last displayed during the first VE Day 75 years ago.

Tony, 81, said: ‘This is the first time the flag has come out since then. It’s the flag that, as a boy, I helped my mother put up 75 years ago. It’s been kept with all my old army memorabilia since then.’

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Proud Tony Simms, 81, of Military Road, Hilsea, holding the flag he last displayed during VE Day on May 8, 1945.

Speaking of VE Day in 1945, Tony added: ‘I was just six years old. I remember being very disappointed in the evening by the firework display – it wasn’t nearly as exciting as watching the anti-aircraft guns firing during the raids as we were running to shelter.’

Tony’s father died in January 1942 after being captured by the Italians during the north African campaign.

Previously, his dad had completed his army training at the barracks in Hilsea – where Tony would train 19 years later.

Tony, who later became a crime reporter and then defence correspondent for The News, said: ‘My father was called up in 1939 and travelled here to Hilsea – 10 days later he was in France with the British expeditionary force.

‘He was a prisoner of war in north Africa and went to Italy. The Italians, through the Vatican, told us they had had to amputate his right arm and that it had been a successful operation.

‘But he was already dead by the time we got that message. He died of septicemia. They didn’t have the antibiotics to save him.’

He added: ‘My mother cried the day I left to cash my travel warrant to travel to Hilsea barracks.’

Tony said he was proud to mark VE Day and honour the sacrifices of all those killed during the war.