James (or Jammie) the Sniper.
This was a cheerful character that I picked up early on a Saturday morning to take to the Community Centre for the day away from his long suffering wife. He opened his front door clutching the top of his trousers saying to me; ‘can you fasten up my belt for me, my missus can’t do it, arthritis’. ‘Sure’ I said, ‘stand still’. Minutes later we were in the car heading over to the Community Centre and he started telling me about his Army days, I must admit that I love listening to old Army stories. ‘I was a sniper’ he said, I looked at him and replied that I had never met a sniper before; ‘yes in the Second World War, I didn’t want to be, but they made me.’
‘Did you shoot anybody?’ I asked. ‘Yes’ he said; ‘I was pretty ruthless, I’ve shot quite a few Germans. I’m ninety-one’ he said. I really thought he was about seventy six, but that meant that he was around nineteen to early twenties during WW2. He went on to tell me that he was in the D. Day Landings in Normandy, and that he and his platoon attacked a machine gun position, capturing it from the Gunners, and then turning the gun onto the German lines killing many soldiers. ‘Did you get injured in the war then?’ I asked. ‘Oh yes’ he replied; ‘I got shot in the foot, crossing a river on France, in a small boat, I fell out of it and got washed down the river, it was a bit hairy, but I got through it alright.’
Although he was a bit unsteady on his feet, there was nothing wrong with his memory. He could sing all the old war songs; no problem about that. I looked at this frail old man sat in the car at the side of me who didn’t look like he would say boo to a mouse and wondered about how different his early life in those way years had been to mine. He must have seen some weird and wonderful sights.