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Morecambe war hero Ken, 95, ‘used up eight lives’

War veteran Ken Hill from Morecambe
War veteran Ken Hill from Morecambe
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A 95-year-old World War Two veteran says he must have a guardian angel looking after him due to the number of times he cheated death during the war.

Ken Hill escaped with his life on several occasions during the war, and this week spoke for the first time about his experiences.

War veteran Ken Hill from Morecambe

War veteran Ken Hill from Morecambe

Great-grandad Ken joined the Army as a radio operator with the Royal Signals in 1938 at the age of 18.

He was soon in the thick of the action, and was involved in the Battle of Dunkirk in 1940.

“I can remember Dunkirk as though it were yesterday,” Ken said. “I was really lucky to get out alive. We were in rowing boats when we were machine gunned and thrown into the water.

“I couldn’t swim but another chap said to hang on to him and he towed me to shore.

“Once we got to the beach it was chaotic. I had lost my trousers so I went to the nearest corpse and borrowed his riding breeches.”

Ken then dodged bullets being fired at the beach by German Mescherschmitts.

“They fired right at me and I was surrounded by smoke but they managed to miss me,” Ken said. “At one point I was talking to a group of men and left them minutes before a shell killed them all. There were corpses and people screaming everywhere but I couldn’t do anything to help so I just had to keep walking.”

Volunteering as a stretcher bearer, Ken found himself on board a minesweeper where he was fed for the first time in days before being shipped back to Dover.

He later spent time in London during the blitz before being sent to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Burma doing radio communications, before being flown to India.

He then worked on communications in East Africa, laying telephone lines, where he survived a deadly snakebite. He also survived a bout of malaria.

Other roles Ken was given included instructing British Army generals in radio warfare and teaching morse code during a top secret mission at Windsor Park.

Towards the end of the war, Ken was posted to Portsmouth where he met his first wife, Frances, who was in the WRENs. The couple later married and went on to have four children, David, Jennifer, John and Jackie.

After the war Ken was diagnosed with what would later become known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and put under psychiatric care for five years.

“It was very primitive in those days,” Ken said. “I would have things like electric shock treatment where they would give me a bone to bite down on while they did it.

“When the war was going on you would feel fine; it was only after being demobbed that it hit you. I was very lucky because I never got a single injury. I must have had a guardian angel watching over me.

“I often think how I got through the war without any harm, but mentally it shattered me.”

Ken worked as a TV engineer in Bath – where he was among the first colour TV engineers – before moving to Morecambe about 35 years ago with his second wife Elin, who sadly passed away 17 years ago.

Despite suffering from crippling arthritis now, Ken manages to keep active and still communicates with the Royal Signals via radio every week.

He has five medals including the 1939-45 medal and the Africa and Burma Stars for his service duiring the war.

“It’s been an interesting life I have led and it’s amazing that I am still here really,” Ken said. “I think I must have already used up about eight lives.”