A D-Day veteran who served as a baker during the push into occupied France has marked his 103rd birthday in fitting style – with a slice of personalised cake.
Clarence Dyer, known as Jim, celebrated the occasion at his care home in Warwickshire where staff hung up party banners and balloons.
He also watched his great-granddaughter, Zoe Westmore, 12, play happy birthday on her keyboard in a recording relayed by staff.
With visiting restrictions to guard against coronavirus still in place, it has proved tricky for Jim’s family to spend time with him, so the sponge cake was made by a chef at Four Acres Care Home in Studley.
The humble ex-serviceman also spent the day indulging his love of reading and word-searches.
His grand-daughter, Kay Westmore, 48, from Studley, was unable to visit him yesterday (Sunday, June 20) but still wanted to make the milestone as special as possible.
“My granddad had a lovely day,” Kay said.
“We were unable to visit as the home is still closed to visitors but I dropped off gifts and cards to make sure he didn’t miss out. I also recorded my youngest daughter playing happy birthday on her keyboard, which he was able to watch.
“My granddad spent the day in his room reading and doing word-searches, which is what he enjoys doing. It was a perfect day for a wonderful man. I am so proud of him.”
Jim served as a baker during World War Two and on D-Day landed in Normandy near the fishing village of Arromanches-les-Bains, on the western end of an area designated Gold Beach by the Allies.
An only child from Studley, Jim left school to work at a bake house in Alcester.
He married Evelyn Barnett at Holy Trinity Church in Arrow on November 11, 1939, three months after the war broke out, and was called up to help feed the troops.
Jim landed on Gold Beach near the fishing village, which was taken by the British 50th Division on June 6, 1944. On VE Day, he was in liberated France working as a baker.
Jim has said: “Everybody was very pleased about it, even the Germans, everyone had a sense of relief.
“The village in France had a big barn dance to celebrate, you had to walk through two big fields to get to it.
“When it was announced there was silence followed by an eruption of cheers, and it felt like the whole country was celebrating.”
After the war, Jim settled back in Studley with Evelyn, who passed away in 1959.
A talented baker, he continued making treats including mince pies and cakes for his grandchildren as they grew up. He stayed fit through cycling and has always kept his mind sharp, at one stage working as a Sunday school teacher. He is a member of Studley Parish church.
Jim has one surviving child, Margaret Chatwin, after his son Ken Dyer, Kay’s father, passed away two years ago. He also has three other grandchildren, Ian Dyer and Paul and Craig Chatwin.
The generations are completed by his eight great-grandchildren, including Kay’s five children.
As well as keeping up with family news and milestones, the avid reader keeps up to date with the latest affairs through reading newspapers.