Army veteran, 99, is able to wear his World War Two medals for the first time on Remembrance Sunday after they were restored by soldiers from his former regiment
- Ken Batt, 99, of Loughton, Essex, served with Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry in WWII
- Serving soldiers in his former regiment surprised him with his restored medals
- ‘Humble’ Mr Batt will wear his awards for the first time on Remembrance Sunday
A 99-year-old veteran who enlisted as a teenager has been surprised with a repaired set of his Second World War medals, allowing him to wear them for the first time.
‘Humble’ Ken Batt, of Loughton, Essex, had never worn the awards he received while serving with the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry during the conflict.
But thanks to serving soldiers in his former regiment, who worked with his Mr Batt’s wife-of-74-years Joyce to have the medals secretly restored, Mr Batt can proudly wear the awards on his chest in time for Remembrance Sunday.
World War Two veteran Trooper Ken Batt, 99, of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry saluting at his doorstep, having received his medals
Mr Batt was just a teenager when he signed up to the army, having earlier worked as an apprentice at the Great Western Railway company.
His passion for horses made him keen to serve with the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry as it gave him the opportunity to develop his riding skills and he volunteered to exercise the officers’ horses at weekends.
In 1939, he was deployed to the Middle East, in what was then known as Palestine, and took part in the Iraq and Syrian campaigns.
‘Humble’ Mr Batt had never worn the medals he was awarded for his service in the Second World War. The medals had never been mounted for wear and had battered ribbons
Veteran Trooper Mr Batt of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry, in uniform during the second World War (left and right). He was bayoneted at the Battle of Palmyra and shot out of his tank at the Battle of El Alamein
Mr Batt’s medals in the Guards’ Tailor’s shop in Wellington Barracks, London, being mounted by Sergeant Darren Hall at the request of Lieutenant colonel David Utting
He was bayoneted at the Battle of Palmyra and shot out of his tank on the first night of the Battle of El Alamein.
But Mr Batt survived and went on to serve in Syria and Italy in 1944 before returning to the UK after four-and-a-half years of service.
When his regiment, now part of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry, helped him mark his 99th birthday in September, it was discovered Mr Batt had never worn his medals which had battered ribbons and were wrapped up in tissue paper.
Lieutenant Colonel David Utting arriving to hand over the medals of Mr Batt after he had them had mounted so that the veteran would be able to wear them on Remembrance Sunday
Mr Batt will wear the medals on Sunday for the first time since they were issued 75 years ago
Mr Batt sees the restored medals presented by a socially distanced Lieutenant Colonel Utting, as wife-of-74 years Joyce looks on
Mr Batt was particularly moved to see the 8th Army bar on his Africa Star (medal second from left) because that had previously been lost
The Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry during WW2
In August 1939 the regiment was deployed to Palestine. Later serving in Syria, North Africa and Iraq.
In North Africa the unit acted as a search light regiment, an air defence unit of the British Army, in the ports of Tobruk and Benghazi.
In 1941 they became motorised and in June that year they fought successfully against Vichy French forces in Syria.
In July of that year they joined the expedition into Persia as armoured, motorised infantry.
In December of 1941 they were given Honey tanks – which meant they became an armoured regiment, under the Royal Armoured Corps.
They moved to Egypt in May 1942 where they fought the Battle of Alam el Halfa and the Battle of El Alamein.
The 9th Armoured Brigade was then deployed to Cairo and Syria for security duties, remaining until 1943.
In May 1944 they moved to Italy and a month later took part in the advance on Rome.
The 9th Brigade was deployed to the central mountains south east of Florence, on the approach to the Gothic Line, to support the 4th and 10th Indian Divisions.
And in August all men with four and a half years of service or more were repatriated – as this was around half of the regiment the unit was withdrawn from battle.
It was re-deployed in October 1944 returning to England to train reinforcements for Armoured Regiments in Europe – a role it continued until 1946, a year after victory in Europe.
Lieutenant colonel David Utting, of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry, said: ‘It was clear that he’d never actually had them mounted or worn them.
‘I thought about this afterwards, and I thought, ‘well, this can’t be right’.
‘So I had his medals smuggled out of his house, by his wife and the lady who helps them and had them mounted.
‘We took them back last week … and he was totally unaware this was going to happen.’
Mr Batt, who lives with his wife Joyce, was surprised on his doorstep with hand-finished repaired medals.
Lieutenant colonel Utting said: ‘Initially when he picked them up, you could see he was just trying to comprehend the idea.
‘He did say ‘whose medals are these’? We said ‘they’re yours Ken’.’
Mr Batt was particularly moved to see the 8th Army bar on his Africa Star because that had previously been lost.
Lieutenant colonel Utting added: ‘At the end of it all, he said to me: “so how much do I owe you?”
‘I said: ‘I think Ken we owe you a lot more than you owe us’.
‘Well, that’s the humility of the man, you know. He’s never expected anything.’
Lieutenant colonel Utting said Mr Batt had never sought to disassociate himself from the war, but was simply part of a generation who had not focused on the medals they received.
He said: ‘Medals weren’t important. It was his friends, the people he made friendships within the regiment and the fact that they were the ones that survived, that thing that brings all the survivors together.
‘They didn’t need the medals to remind them where they’d been, they knew.’
Lieutenant colonel Utting said Mr Batt is a ‘wonderful’ and ‘humble’ man who had help put his regiment ‘on the map’.
‘I was just so pleased to be able to do this for him and to be able to see his reaction. I feel really pleased and proud.’
Mr Batt will be observing Remembrance Sunday in ‘quiet contemplation’ from home this year, Lieutenant colonel Utting added.
The medals in all their glory. Mr Batt had never sought to disassociate himself from the war, but was simply part of a generation who had not focused on the medals they received
Sergeant Darren Hall mounts the medals at the request of Lt Colonel David Utting who had visited veteran on his 99th birthday and decided Mr Batt should be able to wear his medals
Mr Batt holds a sign reading ‘Every poppy counts’ as he proudly wears his medals
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