Soldiers, a gunner and two lance bombardiers were among those visiting Arbory Residential Home on Wednesday, to mark Armed Forces Day (27 June).
The service personnel, all from Tidworth Garrison, met a very special resident – D-Day veteran Fred Sadler. They completed a special celebratory parade and salute in his honour, as well as bringing along some war memorabilia to show to residents, and talking with Fred about his experiences.
Fred can be seen pictured walking on the Normandy beaches in what is described as ‘the greatest picture of the war’. As a sapper in 84 Field Company Royal Engineers, Fred was pictured on the beach at 8.32am on 6th June 1944, during the early stages of the D-Day invasion. His multi-skilled platoon went on to help rebuild vital infrastructure, including bridges and roads. When this now famous photo was revealed, Fred came forward to name the soldiers from his platoon that it featured, helping to unveil the true identity of the men shown.
Iain Slack, general manager at Arbory, commented: “At Arbory we are lucky to have such a rich and diverse mix of people join us, who each have an amazing story to tell. Fred is one such resident and he’s also a true gentleman, who it is our great pleasure to have met. We’re delighted the Tidworth service personnel visited and honoured him in this way.”
Fred Sadler grew up in Ripon, Yorkshire as part of a large family. He joined the army at age 20 and went on to be stationed at a farm just outside Overton. While there Fred met Kathleen in the local pub and they were married soon after. The couple have now been married for over 73 years.
After leaving the army in 1946, Fred continued to put his skills to use, building houses for his two daughters and a bungalow for himself and wife Kathleen. He worked for over 14 years at The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston near Reading, before going self-employed as a builder. Always very active, Fred also kept an immaculate garden and was never too busy to help anyone who needed it.