Sunday morning the 25th October was bright and crisp start to the day and along with good friend Ray Almond, we were standing in the car park of the Imperial War Museum Duxford in Cambridgeshire. It was 9.00 am and we were there to witness a very special reunion between two veterans, Roy Palmer and Ronnie Miles, who hadn’t seen each other for over 70 years. I had been asked to by the photographer for the day and Ray was to video it. Our invitation had come via Paul Brindley. Paul, who is part of the C Troop re-enactment group, had painstakingly put this rather unique day together
The two old comrades of C Troop 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron had both fought at the Battle of Arnhem and each believed the other to be dead, however, on this day, these old friends, would come face to face once again.
Above: Corporal Roy Palmer and Trooper Ronnie Miles in 1944
Above: Ronnie Miles (left) and Roy Palmer (right) reunited after 71 years
Paul Brindley told us how it all came about; "From the quite coincidental meeting at a show several weeks ago, between former Cpl. Roy Palmer and Craig Maloney of C Troop Re-enactment, it was suggested by Al Thompson that we try to get Roy Palmer and Ronnie Miles together. After many phone calls, emails, texts and Facebook messages, we managed between us all to put together a reunion that all who were there would remember for the rest of their lives."
"We were instrumental in bringing together two men who hadn't seen each other since that terrible day, Sunday September 17th 1944, when C Troop, of the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron, were badly shot up and suffered severe casualties in both dead and wounded. Both Ronnie and Roy had believed, all this time, the other to be dead and we were given the rare opportunity to put this right."
"As I walked through the doors of the Airborne Forces Museum with Ronnie Miles, C Troop had lined either side of the entrance, Dave Baverstock and Ray Almond had set their cameras up ready, and Roy Palmer was stood at the opposite side to meet Ronnie. The surge of pride I felt is something that is difficult to describe. Within seconds of meeting each other the years rolled away and they were young men again."
"A PRICELESS moment, truly priceless."
Above: Ronnie Miles (left) and Roy Palmer (right) with members of C Troop Re-enactment Group
To echo Paul's words, it was indeed a priceless moment to witness, very emotional; with many a tear being shed and it was a privilege to be involved.
Both Ronnie and Roy had been accompanied by family members and it was nice to occasionally slink into the background just to observe the happiness etched on their faces. It truly was an humbling experience. Once the two old friends had, had a chance to rekindle their friendship and jog each other memories, they were presented with inscribed Tankards and Hampers. A very nice touch and one gratefully accepted by the chaps.
Above: Roy and Ronnie with their families
Roy Palmer’s grandson, Alan was one of those present; “I would like to start by saying that it was an extremely nice thing that the group did in arranging this day to bring two old friends back together after such a long time. I would also like to say thank you for taking the time to look after the families of those veterans. Another big thank must be said for the kind gifts of the tankard and hamper that had been put together for both the veterans, very thoughtful. The day will never be forgotten in the minds of those people who were in the presence of these two remaining survivors of C Troop Recce squadron. I am an immensely proud Grandson of someone who has seen some terrible things and lost some very close comrades. Just a great day for everyone and hope there could be another soon. Thanks to you all”
To finish the day, we moved outside the Airborne Museum for some group photographs. At this point I must credit and thank the staff at Duxford for all their help. They were extremely accommodating with nothing was too much trouble to make the day as special as possible for everyone who had attended. Once the photo call was completed we slipped away to allow them all some space and time to reminisce.
Above: David Baverstock takes a break from photographing to sit in with Roy and Ronnie before leaving them to reminisce