Ron Day, a distinguished World War II veteran, enjoyed a double celebration as he marked his 100th birthday on Christmas Day at the Vale View Heights Care Home in Sidmouth, East Devon.
Amidst the Christmas festivities Ron’s family threw a special party in honour of him reaching his century. They decorated the private bistro area at Vale View Heights and invited family, friends and staff at the home to join in the celebrations. The birthday card Ron received from King Charles III and The Queen Consort was in pride of place.
Ron was born on 25 December 1922 in Taunton, Somerset. Only 17 when the Second World War broke out, Ron joined the RAF and trained to be a navigator and wireless operator in Canada before entering active service. Initially stationed in Scotland, Ron was part of a squadron that flew Bristol Beaufighters on anti-shipping strikes along the north German and Dutch coasts. Anti-shipping missions were extremely dangerous and sustained heavy casualties. At one stage of the war the chances of crewmen surviving a tour was only 25 per cent, with just three per cent expected to survive two tours.
On 11 April 1945 Ron was in a flight of 35 Mosquito bombers targeting shipping routes off the south-east coast of Norway when he was shot down. He and his pilot, Sqn Ldr Phil Davenport, miraculously survived and were taken prisoner by the Germans and kept under armed guard in hospital in Oslo until the end of the war.
After VE Day, Ron married Clarice Griffin, who he had met during the war, and had two daughters, Jane and Sally. The family lived in Taunton and Ron worked for an agricultural equipment firm serving the South West.
Commenting on reaching his 100th birthday Ron said: “I’m sure the secret to a long life is happiness. I was blessed with a wonderful marriage of 70 years, had two fantastic daughters and good health. What more can you ask for?
“I’ve had a really lovely day and the staff at Vale View have gone out of their way to help me celebrate my century.”
Paul Courtney, care home manager, Vale View Heights said: “It has been a privilege for us to join Ron in marking this incredible milestone. He has led a fascinating life as part of the unique generation that fought so bravely and successfully for our country in World War II.
“Ron still manages to take an active part in life at the home and is a regular and popular member of Vale View Height’s Veterans Club.”