Joan Cremeiu-Javal may be 97, but she can still recall the night a critical operation was carried out while a London hospital was burning during the Blitz.
Mrs Cremeiu-Javal, who now lives in Galashiels, was one of a number of local visually-impaired veterans who were guests of honour at a flag-raising ceremony and civic reception hosted by Scottish Borders Council on Monday, June 23.
The event was organised as part of Armed Forces Day, which provides an opportunity to show support and gratitude towards current armed forces personnel and veterans through parades, ceremonies and military displays.
An official Armed Forces Day flag was raised at council headquarters in Newtown St Boswells, followed by a short ceremony.
The civic reception provided the veterans with an opportunity to describe their service careers and experiences as members of the charity Scottish War Blinded.
Councillor John Greenwell, the local authority’s veterans’ champion, hoped that, in some small way, the event had raised the profile of the Scottish War Blinded charity and those it helped.
“As armed forces and veterans’ champion for Scottish Borders Council, it gave me great pleasure to welcome veterans and staff from the Scottish War Blinded to council headquarters to take part in our Armed Forces Day flag-raising ceremony,” he said.
“I would urge anyone that has an ex- serviceman/woman, relative or friend experiencing visual problems, whether or not the impairment was caused whilst in service, to get in touch with Scottish War Blinded to see if they qualify for help.”
Mrs Cremeiu-Javal served as a qualified nurse on the home front, North Africa, Sicily and Italy campaigns during the Second World War and was awarded the Africa Star in 1945.
Recalling some of her wartime experiences, Mrs Cremeiu-Javals told us: “Some of my memories from that time make things seem almost unreal – from supervising a critical operation at St Thomas’s Hospital whilst the operating theatre was on fire during the Blitz; the huge tented hospitals in Algiers full of Allied casualties, to being thanked personally by Winston Churchill for nursing him back to health following pneumonia, as part of his senior medical staff.”
The Scottish War Blinded charity provides an outreach service in the Borders to any veteran who has lost their sight in service or in subsequent later life.
Outreach worker Dawn Smith can be contacted by telephoning 0131 333 1369 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.