Harold Beven reckons he’s the luckiest man to serve in the Second World War. Born in a village east of London, he saw plenty of action in the (UK) Royal Navy, but by his own admission, never got his feet wet. Joining up as soon as possible after the outbreak of war, Beven served in almost all the naval theatres. As a Chief Petty Officer, he was involved in the evacuations of Greece and Crete — and later the allied invasions of Sicily and Italy — as well as the D-Day invasion of France. At the age of 96, Beven remembers entire conversations as if it was yesterday.
As I stood there a plane came in, blew the head off the gunner, I jumped over the parapet, he was only two metres away from me, I jumped over the lip of the gun pit, put my arms round the body and undid the strap that held him into the gun, and I lowered him to the deck.– Harold Beven