Jewish D-Day veteran, 98, who helped Nazi concentration camp survivors during the Second World War fears ‘we are going through the same thing again’ after ‘cowardly’ Hamas attack
Distraught Jewish veteran Mervyn Kersh was one of nine D-Day veterans to march past the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday – but he fears another war could be on the horizon and the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation could be in vain.
The father-of-three, 98, served in the Second World War as a private with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, fighting through Belgium, Holland and Germany.
He was also sent to help survivors of Adolf Hitler’s death camp: Bergen-Belsen, where 70,000 or more people died including many Jews.
Speaking yesterday, as he remembered his comrades, Mervyn said tearfully: ‘It was a waste of time. We are going through the same thing again.’
Mr Kersh pointed to Hamas’ recent attacks on Israel, calling them ‘very upsetting.’
Mervyn Kersh, 99, was one of nine D-Day to march past the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day. He has slammed Hamas’ attack on Israel
Destroyed cars and personal effects are still left scattered around the Supernova Music Festival site, where hundreds were killed and dozens taken by Hamas militants near the border with Gaza
Speaking about the sacrifices of those who fought in the Second World War he told The Sun: ‘It had a purpose which we have achieved but we seem to be losing it again and it’s very upsetting.
‘If we’re not strong and we’re not ready for war, we are going to land up in another war’.
His daughter, Lynne, 70, said she thought the crowds at the Cenotaph were smaller than previous years because of the recent protests.
‘I think people were afraid after yesterday about what might have gone on,’ she said. ‘I think the crowd was about half what we would usually get. Enthusiastic, but much lower in numbers’, she said.
Those taking part had travelled from as far away as Australia and Canada. The youngest – eight-year-old Isabelle Bovington – was there to remember her Royal Navy nurse father, while several centenarians who served in the Second World War were present.
Nine heroes of the D-Day landings were among the procession.
They included D-day veteran, Joe Randall, 100. He said: ‘It’s always lovely to be here on a day like today and see the other chaps. I suppose it’s a strange thing to say, but as much as we were all pleased the war was over, after it ended I really missed being in uniform.
‘I really did like the life, I really missed being with them. It’s the comradeship.
‘I always think of a chap called Mac, that’s all I ever knew him as. He was killed in front of me on January 1, 1945, at half past ten in the morning. He would have been about 25 or 26. That day they attacked Brussels airfield and another two.
That day, nobody expected it because we thought we had them on the run. It is really important to remember together all those that served and sacrificed from across the Commonwealth and Allied Forces as they helped to liberate France in 1944.’
Normandy Veteran Mervyn Kersh was also sent to help survivors of Adolf Hitler’s death camp: Bergen-Belsen, where 70,000 or more people died including many Jews
Veterans gather in Whitehall to march past the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday on November 12, 2023
Veterans march past the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday
Lennon Palin, 13, was among 46 children marching with Scotty’s Little Soldiers, a charity that supports youngsters who have lost a parent serving in the Armed Forces. He was just one when his father, Corporal Mark Palin, 33, was killed by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Afghanistan in July 2011.
His wife, Carla, was pregnant with their daughter Ruby when he died. The 11-year-old marched in the parade alongside her brother.
Lennon said he felt ‘happy and proud’ to take part on what would have been his father’s 45th birthday. ‘I was a little bit nervous but I think my dad would be proud of me for doing it,’ he said.
Isabelle Bovington was two weeks from her first birthday when her dad, leading naval nurse Tom Bovington, of Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service, died on September 9, 2016, from a genetic heart condition.
Her mother Vicky, 36, said: ‘In the past I always felt that Remembrance was only about anybody that had died in war and veterans. I didn’t feel like it was for us.
‘And then I started to realise that Remembrance was for everyone, and for my daughters to remember their dad as well because he was a member of the military and they deserve an opportunity to remember.’
This year also marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, and some of the 60,000 British personnel who fought as part of the United Nations forces, were also at the service.
It was also the first year that veterans who participated in Britain’s nuclear testing programme in the 1950s and 1960s were able to wear their new medal, announced by the Prime Minister in November 2022, following a successful campaign for recognition.
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