It was a week or so after D-Day – we were the first reinforcements to arrive. Our boys must have been 10 miles into France, and I was drafted into the Somerset Light Infantry
Peter Van Zeller, 95, served in both the RAF and the Army during World War II, and six days after D-Day he was shot in the arm by a sniper while advancing with the Somerset Light Infantry.
A surgeon saved his elbow but the amputation ended his war. He received no compensation, no rehabilitation but was determined to have a full, independent life. “I learned to do everything again,” he says. “It still takes me an hour to shave, shower, dress and make my bed each day, but I do it.”
Peter, who joined Blesma after his injury, was secretary of the Norfolk Branch, learned to ride a horse to a high standard and worked in agriculture around the world before taking a job with the Milk Marketing Board that involved driving 40,000 miles a year.
“I was always determined and stayed positive. I’ve seen people give up, and you can even wish yourself to death. I’ve been through despondency, but I don’t let it last,” he adds. “I’ve never given up – and Blesma helps people not to give up, too.”