Arthur, 102, loves the team at Asda Farnworth where he shops each week

November 12, 2021

Second World War veteran Arthur, who’s 102, is an inspiration to everyone at our Farnworth store in Bolton where he’s been doing his shopping each week since it first opened more than 40 years ago.

Arthur, who served in Special Forces and was shot three times during the war, loves to have a chat with everyone when he picks up his groceries and says he wouldn't shop anywhere else.

He said: "I was one of the first customers here when it opened. I used to go with my late wife Joan and now I go there once a week with Tony who lives next door to me.

"I know everybody in Asda, I think. I've never had a wrong word in Asda with anybody. They always say hello and give me all the information that I want. I say hello to most of the staff there and we always pass the time of day.

"I've always been independent and don't need help. When I wander around and can't find anything I'll say to so-and-so 'where's such a thing' and they'll say 'come here and I'll show you'. There's one particular lady there who always packs my shopping for me.

"The methods of shopkeeping has changed over the years. I remember when it first opened there used to be two middle-aged ladies, twins I think, who greeted you at the front door. They always said 'good morning' and 'how are you?', you know."

Arthur, who was born in April 1919, was called up into the Army aged 20 in May 1939 under the National Service Act.

After first serving as an artillery gunner in Norway 220 miles inside the Arctic Circle and "fighting for his life" he was posted to the Western Desert, seeing action in Malta and Syria among other places. After the Battle of El Alamein in Egypt in 1942 he volunteered for a new Special Forces team where he became a sergeant.

Arthur said: "It was tough training and tougher operations. We were taught how to use explosives and how to dive out of an aeroplane and God knows what.

"All we would get was a notice to say we would be going in by parachute during the night on one of the islands, like Crete, and we may set fire to two dozen aircraft, something like that, and then we would make our way to the coast, flash a light and we would be taken out by submarine.

"We were sworn to secrecy. If I wanted anything I only had to go into the stores and say 'have you got so-and-so,' show them my number and I got what I wanted.

"The battle went on from El Alamein along the coast and we would go scouting in advance of the Army. We went into Sicily and into Italy. We wandered all over the islands. I never let anybody know what I did. My parents didn't even know until VE Day.

"I will never forget the team I had. They saved my life so many times."

In 1946, Arthur married Joan, was demobbed from the Army and started to work in the building trade on the clerical side until he retired at the age of 65.

Arthur, who has a son, Peter, said: "I've had a wonderful life, I've had a wonderful wife; she was gorgeous my wife."

And the secret to a long and happy life ... gardening!

"I keep my own garden nice and do Tony's garden next door as a tit-for-tat thing," said Arthur. "And if anyone comes over and wants anything I'll given them a plant or whatever."

Store manager Jennie Court said: “Arthur is an absolute gentleman who gave an awful lot fighting for King and country.

"Colleagues here adore him. It's always 'morning Arthur' and 'Are you okay, Arthur?' They are always there to help him, but he doesn't need any help.

"He is such a lovely, lovely man. He was in the Special Forces and he is really special! He's like a national celebrity in Farnworth. As soon as you meet him and have a conversation with him you just fall in love with him. We always make a big fuss of him and it's a joy to do it, as he's such a joy."

Two years ago to celebrate his 100th birthday, colleagues even surprised him by throwing a little party for him and making him a special cake.

Jennie said: "He's been coming in since the store was built in December 1979 and he comes in on the same day each week. He must take forever to do his shopping because everyone stops him for a chat. He's not one of those people who doesn't want to talk, as he really loves a conversation!

"Arthur doesn't look his age at all and his memory for dates is phenomenal. He's got a better memory than me. Arthur we salute you!"

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