Blind veteran to march at Cenotaph

Bob Ware, 92, will march at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday
Bob Ware, 92, will march at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday

A blind veteran is set to march at the Cenotaph in London this Remembrance Sunday with the charity Blind Veterans UK.

Bob Ware, 92 and from Rainhill, is a registered blind Royal Navy veteran who sailed some of the most dangerous routes in the Second World War.

He will be marching at the Cenotaph in London with more than 100 other blind veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-service men and women on November 13.

Bob said: “I marched at the Cenotaph a couple of years ago and it was marvellous. It is an honour to be part of the parade and I always think about the fellow Seamen that went down in the war. It is important that we pay respects to those who sacrificed as we were the lucky ones.”

Bob was called up to join the Navy in 1942 and served on HMS Albrighton, a Hunt-class Destroyer which escorted convoys of Merchant Navy ships from America to the UK. The convoys were regularly targeted by German U-Boats, which sought to break the UK’s supply chain.

He said: “I really felt that I was working for the war effort. Had we not got those supplies safely across the Atlantic, the war could have ended very differently. The Germans managed to sink lots of Merchant Navy ships, so we were there to make sure that as many got through as possible.”

Following Germany’s surrender, Bob served on landing crafts and was mobilised to India to prepare for an invasion of Japan. The invasion was called off after the US nuclear strikes on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Despite the danger, Bob remembers his service fondly. He said: “I went to defend my country and that was the most important thing. There was always this fear at the back of my mind that the worst might happen, but I just got on with it. My time in the Navy was alright actually, but the best bit was when we got to go ashore and have a few beers.”

Decades after leaving the Armed Forces, Bob began to lose his sight due to age-related macular degeneration.

He said: “I had to give up driving which was definitely the hardest part of losing my sight but it’s no good complaining.”

Bob started receiving help and support from Blind Veterans UK in 2012. The charity has helped him live independently with sight loss by providing training and equipment to help him with everyday tasks.

“Blind Veterans UK has been absolutely fantastic,” he said.

“As well as not driving anymore I’d also stopped reading but they’ve given me a brilliant magnifying machine that means I can still read the newspaper and even do crosswords.

“I’ve recently been given a tablet computer with special software that has been a huge help too.”

Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, providing vital practical and emotional support to help veterans discover life beyond sight loss. The charity estimates that there are currently 59,000 blind veterans that would be eligible to access its specialist support, most of whom are not currently aware of it.

If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces or did National Service and are now battling severe sight loss, find out how Blind Veterans UK could help by calling 0800 389 7979 or visiting noonealone.org.uk.