Published: 17:01, 17 June 2021
| Updated: 17:53, 17 June 2021
A 95-year-old Second World War veteran who took part in the fighting that inspired blockbuster film A Bridge Too Far has been honoured 77 years on.
William Cook - known as Roy to his friends - was honoured on Tuesday at a ceremony at his home in Collerton Park in North Road, Hythe, with a Dutch Liberation Medal presented by Lieutenant Colonel Rob Arts, the military attaché at the Dutch Embassy.
Among the friends and family in attendance was neighbour Michael Dawson, who explained how Roy had been involved in Operation Market Garden - the big push up through Holland made in an effort to relieve troops at Arnhem in September 1944.
"He was part of the Irish Guards," explained Mr Dawson. "The regiment was featured in the film a Bridge Too Far. They pushed up through Belgium and Holland to relieve the paratroopers at Arnhem. He was involved in a lot of fighting on that route up through Holland, but he was wounded and had to be taken to a military hospital."
Recounting the incident he added: "They had been trying to get close to a machine gun post. They went through a cemetery and he dived through the grave digger's house - the Germans had put spikes up in the ground and he was impaled on the spike, but it possibly saved his life. When he came back to his unit after he had recovered, nine of his comrades had been killed.
"He recovered from his injuries but they were pretty awful. The spikes went through his stomach and through both legs."
Almost 77 years on, the terrors of that day are a distant memory, but they are far from forgotten, and Mr Dawson said the medal was a reminder from the Duth of their enduring gratitude.
"The Dutch government decided to thank their liberators while they're still alive," he added. "It was wonderful; all his friends were there, his wife Annette and his daughter Sandra.
"He was very moved and pleased and he felt very honoured. He's a lovely chap, a true gentleman and a real guardsman - he still holds himself up very straight.
"He was friends in later life with the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen Mother through connections with the guards regiment."
Roy's daughter Sandra Cook added: "I couldn't have been prouder. He really enjoyed the day and he did a great speech about what he's done in the war and what happened to him, as well as his fondness for the Dutch people and his colleagues."