NORMANDY veteran Frederick Wheeler, who lived and worked for many years in Wallingford and Cholsey, has died aged 96.
Frederick Kenneth Charles Mons Wheeler was born in St John’s Road, Wallingford, on October 25, 1914, taking one of his names from the Battle of Mons, which his father had fought in that August.
One of six children, he left school at the age of 14 and was apprenticed in the grocery trade at the International Stores, working in Wallingford and at branches as far away as Cornwall.
Following call-up during the Second World War, Mr Wheeler joined the Somerset Light Infantry and fought with the 43rd Wessex Division in the Normandy campaign three weeks after the D-Day landings in 1944.
During bitter fighting, he distinguished himself, being mentioned in dispatches and receiving the Military Medal. Mr Wheeler was commissioned in the field and served in the rank of Captain until he was demobbed in 1946.
In civilian life, he returned to the grocery trade and for some years managed Horace Walters’ shop in Market Place, Wallingford.
He was an accomplished ballroom dancer, a talent which no doubt helped him court Vera Talbot, whom he married in 1949.
After moving to Kent in 1959, Mr Wheeler used his tenor voice to good effect in the chorus of the local operatic society.
Returning to Cholsey in the 1990s after retirement, Mr Wheeler’s lifelong interest in allotment gardening made him many new friends and he served as president of Cholsey Allotments Protection Association.
He was a keen member of the Royal British Legion, proudly marching in Remembrance Day parades until he was 90.
Despite suffering a stroke, he was able to take part in a veterans’ pilgrimage to old battlegrounds in Normandy at the age of 94.
Mr Wheeler and his wife moved to Shropshire in 2008. He was taken ill on October 20, succumbing to a stroke on October 25 – his 96th birthday.
He is survived by his wife Vera and sons Ian, Derek and Christopher.