Emotional time for D-Day veteran as Belgian family relives old memories with him
PUBLISHED: 13:06 05 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:08 05 July 2019
Copyright: Archant 2019
There were a lot of tears but also smiles as a D-Day veteran relived some of the happiest times of his Second World War service.
Seventy-five years ago William 'Billy' Twiddy was a young soldier billetted with Pierre and Maricke Bertrand at their small farm in Melkwezer, Brabant, in Belgium.
Now 96, Mr Biddy was moved to tears when their son Francis Bertrand and his family visited him on Thursday, July 4, while holidaying in the county.
Mr Bertrand, 61, his wife Linda Van Mol and sons Sander and Lowie, brought along a photographic album and Mr Twiddy immediately recognised his parents and the small farm where Mr Twiddy and three other soldiers were billetted towards the end of the war.
Mr Twiddy has remembered the two weeks he spent there as the happiest of the war.
He was part of a Royal Armoured Corps team that transported petrol to tanks on the front line.
He said: "I remember the family well. They did not speak English, but we made ourselves understood when we asked for a cup of tea, and they made themselves understood. They gave up their double bed for us, which was a godsend. And it was lovely to sleep on clean bedsheets.
"We were very happy there and the whole village came out when we left."
The visitors brought Belgian chocolates and beer as gifts, and Mr Bertrand, who speaks excellent English, said it was "amazing" to finally meet Mr Twiddy.
He said: "My parents said he was the quietest of the soldiers that were billetted with them. I don't know why they stayed at my parents' house, but I think other British soldiers also stayed at other times.
"My father had previously sheltered a man called Raymond from the Resistance, which was dangerous. My parents told me that the Germans came to the farm."
The family had written to Mr Twiddy using the address in Hollow Lane, Langham, which he had written on a Christmas card he sent to them in 1975. As they were coming to England, they decided to visit the Twiddy family at William's son, Alan's house in Holt.