A Northamptonshire VE Day and open garden event will be welcome a special guest this weekend,,,a naval veteran who was on the HMS Edinburgh when it was sunk while carrying £45,million of gold to America.
Granville Hart will be speaking at the event in Guilsborough on Saturday, recounting the day, as well as his experiences as a captain in France on D-Day.
HMS Edinburgh was sunk on May 4, 1942, in the Barents Sea just north of Norway carrying the load - a wartime payment from Russia to the USA. While many sailors lost their lives in the freezing water, Mr Hart, an able seaman at the time, survived after being rescued by a Russian trawler.
The great-grandfather said: “I was just a young lad when I joined the Navy, only 18. After we were sunk, those that were rescued were taken back to Murmansk in the east of Russia, but I was there for several months as it took a while to relay people back home on ships.”
On his return to the UK, Mr Hart was commissioned as an officer and transferred to working on landing craft. “I was 23 when I was put as lieutenant in command of a landing craft carrying seven tanks on D-Day,” he said, “and we were stuck there for a few days.
“I can’t remember exactly what I was doing when VE Day was announced, but around that time I was in Holland, transporting bodies of soldiers back to Germany.”
After the end of the Second World War, Mr Hart continued to serve as a reservist for 30 years and was promoted to the rank of captain. On the 70th anniversary of the HMS Edinburgh sinking, he was invited to Scotland to receive a special medal.
He said: “I’m 93 now, so you can see I just keep going.
“I was originally from Harrow but after the war I brought my family up from Guilsborough and I worked for a map-making company for 40 years. I was married for 67 years before my wife passed away last year and we had two children who have themselves gone on to have grandchildren.”
Despite agreeing to take part in the event at Old House, owned by Richard Evans, in Guilsborough this Saturday (May 8) he said: “I barely talk about the war at all.
“We did it all to make life better for people - though the world seems to be in a bit of a mess at the moment so I’m not sure how well that worked.
“These commemoration events are important and I hope that the youngsters pick up on it and come to understand a bit about what really happened and what we did for them.”
A very familiar face moing the local community, Mr Hart will be speaking at arounf 5pm before a musical parade at 5.30 by the three-counties Corps of Drums cadets, organised by Royal British Legion.
These special events are part of a NGS open day, which will see homes around the village opening their gardens to visitors with some even offering refreshments. Mr Evans will also be allowing to people to visit his collection of race horses and lamas at the Old House. Admission is £10 per person and can be paid at any of the houses on the list, which can be searched at www.ngs.org.uk. Some of the proceeds will go to Royal British Legion.