Happy birthday, Arthur! 100 up for Second World War naval hero

Arthur Squires receives his card from The Queen on his 100th birthday.

Arthur Squires receives his card from The Queen on his 100th birthday. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Arthur Squires' life has taken him all over the world, serving in the Navy during the Second World War, before working for the Home Office.

It was in Norfolk he chose to live out his retirement and the past 40 years of his life, celebrating his 100th birthday at home in Hoveton on Friday, with garden visits from family.

Growing up in the Yorkshire mill town of Ossett he was the youngest of three children, and his older sister described him as a "little shocker".

Arthur Squires salutes The Queen as he reads his 100th birthday card.

Arthur Squires salutes The Queen as he reads his 100th birthday card. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

At 19, while on track to follow a career in the building industry, the Second World War broke out and his life was turned on its head. Before long, in 1940, Arthur was voluntarily signing up to become a signalman in the Navy. 

"It was from my scouting days, I always liked semaphore... and I saw a signalman, he was up on the bridge, on the flag deck, and I thought, it's healthier up there, but it meant reading the Morse code and semaphore at a very quick rate," he said.

Arthur Squires in his naval uniform. 

Arthur Squires in his naval uniform. - Credit: Arthur Squires


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Beginning his naval career serving on North Atlantic Convoys, Arthur went on to win battle honours on minesweepers on operations at Dieppe, North Africa, Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and South of France.

He was then promoted to leading signalman to join C in C Mediterranean at Naples, and on return to the UK to the Naval Air Station at Belfast.

Arthur Squires' Second World War medals.

Arthur Squires received battle honours on minesweepers on operations at Dieppe, North Africa, Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and South of France during the Second World War. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

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On return from Naples, the war in Europe was declared over, and VE Day was celebrated the day after arriving in Plymouth.

Arthur said: "We won because we made less mistakes than they did. I was just elated, a feeling of great pleasure. I'd have done it all again because I thought it had been wonderful".

Arthur Squires in his naval uniform. 

Arthur Squires in his naval uniform with his friend Bert. - Credit: Arthur Squires

After completing his time in the Forces, there were an abundance of jobs to be filled and few education opportunities available.

Those who had come out of retirement to work during the war returned and Arthur's few years training and experience in the building industry secured him a position in the Home Office as a building surveyor.

"I missed my youth, they missed their retirement," he said.

He retired as a principle professional officer in the architects department of the Home Office, overseeing the whole of the South East, including Norwich, and was drawn back to Norfolk for the water: "I'd never got the sea out of my veins".

And the secret to a long life? Luck and good fortune, he says, while following the advice of his mother to be conscious of your surroundings.    

Arthur Squires receives his card from The Queen on his 100th birthday.

Arthur Squires receives his card from The Queen on his 100th birthday. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

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