We Were Part Of The Queen’s Coronation

We Were Part Of The Queen’s Coronation

We Were Part Of The Queen’s Coronation

Veterans Vic Needham Crofton and Tom Weatherall have become great friends as part of the Taxi Charity Fundraising Bucket Collection Team. Little did they know when they first met through the charity that they had both played their part in the Queen’s Coronation.

On Coronation Day Vic was one of the soldiers who lined the coronation route and Tom was stationed with the RAF outside Westminster Abbey.

Vic Needham Crofton said, “We trained for about six weeks to be ready for the Queen’s Coronation and we were honoured to line the route. It rained for most of the day, but we didn’t mind. I will be watching all the Jubilee coverage wearing my beret and medals. It was a very special day seventy years ago and I am sure the platinum jubilee celebrations  will be just as special.”

Tom Weatherall said, “Seventy years ago I was in the RAF and as I was only young, I was the perfect age for parades. As an ex-pit lad, it was a real privilege to be part of the Coronation Squad. On the day I was outside Westminster Abbey, and we saluted and presented arms  as the Queen got out of her carriage. As soon as the Queen was inside, we marched off and enjoyed the party atmosphere with  a few pints in the Elephant and Castle.”

To find out more about the support the Taxi Charity offers veterans visit www.taxicharity.org

About the Taxi Charity

The Taxi Charity is run by volunteer London black taxi drivers and has been supporting thousands of veterans of all ages since 1948. The charity arranges free trips to the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, for acts of commemoration and days out to museums, concerts, or fundraising events in the UK, to catch up with friends and comrades.

The Charity worked tirelessly during the pandemic to ensure veterans received regular contact by sending out a greeting card each month, gifts to mark the 75th anniversaries of VE and VJ day, stockings at Christmas and arranging Guards of Honour at veterans’ funerals. Volunteers have also helped with regular phone calls, food shopping, transport to hospital appointments, and more recently taking veterans for their Coronavirus injections.

The charity was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in June 2021.

To fund and facilitate their work, the charity is reliant on generous donations from members of the public, businesses, and trusts.www.taxicharity.org

Herne Bay WWII Veteran Peter Smoothy to join the Taxi Charity in Normandy for the D Day Commemorations

Herne Bay WWII Veteran Peter Smoothy to join the Taxi Charity in Normandy for the D Day Commemorations

On 3 June volunteer London Cab drivers will take 25 WWII veterans to Normandy for the D Day commemorations, amongst them will be D Day veteran Peter Smoothy

On 6 June 1944  Peter Smoothy was one of the 156,000 allied   servicemen that took part in the Invasion of Normandy  as part of Operation Overlord. On 3 June Peter will be joining 24 other Normandy Veterans on a free six-day trip to Normandy  with the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans  for the D Day Commemorations.

On D Day Peter was one a crew of  99 on a Landing Ship Tank LST 215 which headed across the Channel to Juno beach. His Landing Ship carried 28 tanks on the inner deck, 40-45 lorries on the upper deck, and 200 soldiers who were drivers and crew for the vehicles.

WWII Veteran Peter Smoothy said, “We were scheduled to unload our valuable cargo of vehicles and men on Juno beach at 7.30am but the beach had not been cleared so we waited for an hour, two miles offshore for the beach to be cleared so that we could find space to unload. There were shells flying all around us and we were lucky not to be hit but of course we were just one of 1000’s of boats. We were all very young men and said at the time, If our names are on a bullet its our bad luck – we were lucky that our names weren’t.

“When we finally got to the beach it took us 3-4 hours to unload with shells whizzing over our heads and when we were ready to leave, the tide had ebbed, and we couldn’t get off. Fortunately for us, an empty ship isn’t really a target for the enemy, so we spent the day on the beach without being hit and only heard two air raid warnings.

“During that wait by the shore, two hundred German prisoners of war were brought to our ship. Afer searching them we put them on the inner deck where they sat quietly smoking, and not causing us any problems, probably very relieved that for them the war was over, and they were safe.

“We finally got off the beach at 7pm that evening, returned to Southampton, dropped the POW’s reloaded and headed straight back to Juno the next day.”

Gillian Concannon, London Cab Driver, and Taxi Charity Volunteer, said, “I have been volunteering for the Taxi Charity for seven years and have got to know Peter very well. I will be picking him up from his home in Herne Bay on Friday 3 June and we will join the other volunteer Cab Drivers at Portsmouth for our ferry over to Normandy. I think the most moving moments of the trip for both Peter and I will be the visit to the Juno Beach Centre on 5 June and the D Day Ceremony at Ranville CWGC  on the 78th Anniversary of  D Day. It is an absolute privilege to drive these brave men and women and the volunteer cab drivers feel honoured to call these WWII veterans friends.”

To find out more about the support the Taxi Charity offers veterans visit www.taxicharity.org

About the Taxi Charity

The Taxi Charity is run by volunteer London black taxi drivers and has been supporting thousands of veterans of all ages since 1948. The charity arranges free trips to the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, for acts of commemoration and days out to museums, concerts, or fundraising events in the UK, to catch up with friends and comrades.

The Charity worked tirelessly during the pandemic to ensure veterans received regular contact by sending out a greeting card each month, gifts to mark the 75th anniversaries of VE and VJ day, stockings at Christmas and arranging Guards of Honour at veterans’ funerals. Volunteers have also helped with regular phone calls, food shopping, transport to hospital appointments, and more recently taking veterans for their Coronavirus injections.

The charity was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in June 2021.

To fund and facilitate their work, the charity is reliant on generous donations from members of the public, businesses, and trusts.

www.taxicharity.org

30 black cabs transport WWII Veterans who were honoured in Dutch Liberation Parade

30 black cabs transport WWII Veterans who were honoured in Dutch Liberation Parade

Twenty-five WWII veterans were applauded and honoured as they led the Dutch Liberation Parade through the streets of Wageningen on 5 May.

The veterans were taken to The Netherlands by the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans in a fleet of 30 black cabs. Their first experience of the love the Dutch have for them was as the cabs left the Ferry at The Hook of Holland and a police motorbike escort closed 75 miles of motorway and roads to take the veterans in convoy to Wageningen.

The Germans signed the capitulation in 1945 in Wageningen which gave the people of Netherlands their freedom. The Dutch experienced many hardships during the German occupation so the Liberation Parade on 5 May is a huge celebration that thousands attend to offer their love, admiration, and thanks to their liberators.

On 5 May, the veterans led the televised Dutch Liberation Parade while veterans 103 year old Ray Whitwell, and 102 year old Major Ted Hunt MVO, sat in Wageningen Square, outside the hotel where the capitulation was signed, with the invited dignitaries including the husband of the Dutch Princess Royal, Prof. Dr. Mr. Pieter van Vollenhoven. The Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren spoke to the crowd of thousands and thanked Arnhem veterans Major Ted Hunt and Raymond Whitwell in her speech before the parade started.

Dick Goodwin, Vice President, Taxi Charity, said: “The outpouring of love for the veterans is incredible throughout our stay, but during the parade the noise of them thanking their liberators is deafening. Our veterans sit in three golf buggies and three black taxis at the head of the parade and the streets are lined by thousands of men women and children who cheer, applaud, and shower their liberators with flowers as we progress through the town. It is a truly moving and unforgettable experience and there are tears from both those in the parade and those who have come to say thank you and to celebrate their freedom.”

Arnhem Veteran, Geoff Roberts who served with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, said: “I think of The Netherlands as my second home, and I love to visit as often I can. Participating in the parade is important so that we can thank the Dutch for welcoming us every year. I was captured in the Arnhem area in 1944 and was taken prisoner and was held POW for the rest of the war, but I will never forget the kindness of the people. They had so little, and so did we, but we shared whatever we had with each other.”

Frans Ammerlaan from The Market Garden Foundation, who coordinates Taxi Charity visits to The Netherlands, said: “I have been working with the Taxi Charity for many years to facilitate their visits. I consider myself very fortunate to call the volunteer Taxi drivers, the carers, charity team and the veterans my friends. As the veterans are in either their late nineties or hundreds the planning is complex, but it is so rewarding to see the joy when the veterans and the Dutch people come together to remember.”

To find out more about the support the Taxi Charity offers veterans and the trips they organise across the continent visit www.taxicharity.org.

East London Cabbies Outing Cancelled for 2022

East London Cabbies Outing Cancelled for 2022

The East London Cabbies Outing has been cancelled for 2022

The trip has been cancelled for a 3rd consecutive year, this year it cannot take place for a number of reasosns including a lack of drivers and committee resignations.

With a lot of drivers leaving the trade during the pandemic it was inevitable that some of the Taxi charities would lose members from their committee’s .

In a message the secretary stated

I hope you and your families are well and that you are beginning to recover from the huge impact Covid had on the trade.

Unfortunately due to a number of reasons including resignations from the Committee, ill health of a spouse and potential lack of drivers we have decided that we cannot run the day this year.

We do hope to be back next year in 2023 and, unless you tell me otherwise, I will be in touch once the planning starts.

Hopefully the trip will be able to take place during 2023 as it rea6lly is a great event to take part in.

103-year-old WWII Veteran Takes to the Skies

103-year-old WWII Veteran Takes to the Skies

Veteran Ray Whitwell enjoyed a flight in a glider on 3 May over the skies of Arnhem where he fought during World War Two.    

Ray Whitwell, 103, from Malton, North Yorkshire, was delighted when glider pilot Arjan Vrieze offered to take him up in a glider at the Gelderse Gliding Club during his visit to The Netherlands with the Taxi Charity for Dutch Liberation.

Glider pilot Arjan Vrieze said “When Ray visited The Netherlands with the Taxi Charity in March, I was honoured to be invited to take pictures of the trip by the Market Garden Foundation. Over dinner one evening  I asked Ray if he would like a flight in a glider and he jumped at the chance. He was a mere 102 when I asked him in March but now at 103 years old I wonder if he might have set some sort of record as the oldest veteran to go up in a glider?”

Ray Whitwell said after his flight “It was wonderful, I could see for miles. I loved every minute and was very glad that when we came down it was still 2022 and not 1944!”

Ray Whitwell who served with the Royal Army Service Corps landed in The Netherlands in September 1944 for Operation Market Garden  where more than 600 gliders were towed into battle to secure the Bridge at Arnhem and the planned advance into northern Germany. He says of that time with his usual acerbic sense of humour  “We went nine days without food during Operation Market Garden  and then snipers shot holes in the bucket we were collecting water in.”  One of the lucky ones, he evaded capture as he escaped back over the Rhine to British lines.

As part of the Taxi Charity visit to The Netherlands, Ray and other WWII veterans will be taking part in the Dutch Liberation Parade in Wageningen on Thursday 5 May when the streets will be lined with people cheering and thanking the veterans for giving them their freedom.

Dick Goodwin, Vice President of the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans said, “After not being able to travel to The Netherlands  for two years because of the pandemic it is a pleasure and privilege to have brought 25 veterans in 25 iconic London black taxis for Dutch Liberation this year. It is always moving to see the incredibly special reception the veterans will receive not only during the Liberation Parade but throughout our whole visit.”

To find out more about the support the Taxi Charity offers veterans visit www.taxicharity.org