Brixham war veteran Fred celebrates 104th birthday

Fred Bates, 104 years old

Fred Bates, 104 years old - Credit: Archant

Two world wars and a pandemic - Fred Bates is 104 years young at the weekend

The Reina Del Pacifico which took Fred to war

The Reina Del Pacifico which took Fred to war - Credit: Archant

Fred Bates has lived through two world wars and of the one of the worst pandemics in history. And on Sunday he celebrates a special occasion – his 104th birthday.

Fred, from Brixham, will celebrate by enjoying a small gathering with friends and family in Galmpton.

Born during the First World War, he never met his father after he was lost at the Somme.

After a childhood that saw the excitement of the 1920s and then the growing financial depression of the 1930s, Fred set sail for combat as a young man in 1940.

'Fred caught a troop ship from Liverpool in 1940 on the Reina Del Pacifico,' said old friend Ken Moxley. 'He travelled all the way around the world and landed in Egypt at the age of just 24.

'They actually landed before the Suez Canal and joined the fighting against Rommel in the Desert. Fred then moved across to Sicily for the next stage of the war. His adventures involved diving into a trench and capturing an enemy General, receiving a commendation from the legendary Field Marshall Montgomery.'

Most Read

After the war, Fred was assigned to help with the rebuilding job in Germany and then continued his career as an electrical engineer. Married with two sons, he now lives with his surviving son and carer John.

'He is still walking and all his faculties remain very sharp,' said John. 'My mum, Fred's wife, Jane passed away in 2006.

'Dad fought at El Alamein and he has received many medals for his service. When Fred retired from the Army, he continued to work as an engineer and when he arrived back in England, my mum was waiting for him at the station.'

Fred has literally seen it all in his 104 years, the swinging Sixties, strife in the 1970s, the turn of a new Millennium and now Covid-19.

'Next year is the big one,' added John. 'Dad will be 105 and will be due another message from the Queen. The Royal British Legion have also always been wonderful to Dad.'