Published: 06:00, 10 December 2020
| Updated: 08:20, 10 December 2020
A Second World War hero says he feels lucky to be celebrating his 100th birthday when so many of his comrades died young.
Due to Covid-19, retired Colonel Edward Toms, from Hythe, can not be with all his loved ones in person for his landmark birthday today (Thursday), and so will celebrate with a virtual family gathering instead.
Regimental events in his honour have also been postponed until next year.
Mr Toms had a distinguished military career, having risen through the ranks from apprentice to commanding officer.
Having been born in Plymouth in 1920, he trained as a Royal Naval Dockyard apprentice at Devonport in the 1930s.
He went on to serve in the Royal Tank Regiment at the Battle of El Alamein, in Egypt, as well as with the Seaforth Highlanders in the invasions of Italy and Germany.
He also served with the Raiding Support Regiment special forces in raids across the Adriatic into enemy occupied Albania.
At the end of the war he met his future wife Veronica Rose while both were stationed in Ceylon, Sri Lanka.
They went on to have four children, Duncan, David, Rosemary and Jamie, plus eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
After the war Mr Toms remained in the army, retiring with the rank of Colonel, and at one time served as Commanding Officer of the Queens Own Highlanders at Fort George in Inverness-shire.
He also had a a second career as a civil servant and diplomat.
On his retirement he set up a picture framing business with son David.
Mr Toms moved to Hythe from Beckenham in 2004, the year after his wife Veronica passed away.
Earlier this year, David, from London, moved to Hythe so they could isolate together.
Mr Toms said: "I'm just remarkably lucky to have kept fit and well.
"I've only got hearing in one ear so my balance can be a problem and I use a walking frame, but other than that I'm lucky.
"I also feel very lucky compared to my comrades who died at 18 and 20 years old, young men who gave their lives and haven't had any of the joy that I've had.
"I think of them and I remember them."