Percival Chafer celebrated his 100th birthday last week with two ‘bashes’. The first was held on the actual day of his birthday at Eduardos, Villamartin Plaza. That was last Tuesday night, a dinner with family and friends, and then on Friday a much more informal party was held for the former ‘Desert Rat’ in Chemies Lounge, where the sprightly centenarian was entertained by Dan Davy.

Earlier in the week Percy was also delighted to receive a birthday card signed personally by Queen Elizabeth II. The card was delivered by recorded post to Correos in Playa Flamenca from where it was picked up by son Tony.

On Friday morning Percy had another surprise when he was visited by the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Orihuela Costa and District Branch of the Royal British Legion, Kevin Reardon and Eddie Coleman, who gave him a birthday card from members before presenting him with a Certificate of Loyal Service and Lifetime Honorary Membership of the Branch.

Working on the railways at the time Percy was called up for active service shortly after the outbreak of WW2. After basic training in Aldershot he was moved to the north of Scotland from where he then set sail for the Middle East.

Percy spent the next 3 years in Africa with the 7th armoured brigade, with whom he fought in many of the major battles in North Africa, including Operation Crusader in November. During that period he served in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, taking in Tobruk, Benghazi and Tripoli.

In 1942 he moved to 30 Corps with whom he travelled back to Europe serving in the reclamation of France from June 1944 in the Allied Invasion of Normandy, and then in Operation Market Garden, in the Netherlands, and finally in Operation Veritable in Germany until May 1945.

Percy receiving his Legion d'honneur at the French Embassy in London
Percy receiving his Legion d’honneur at the French Embassy in London

Picking up many awards and medals along the way, just 3 years ago at a ceremony held at the French Embassy in London, Percy was awarded with the country’s highest distinction, the Légion d’honneur, by French Ambassador Sylvie Bermann. The presentation took place in the presence of Lord Howe, Deputy Leader of the House of Commons and Minister of State for Defence.

Percy travelled back to his London home in Pimlico on Sunday (24 November) but now, as a member of the Orihuela Costa Branch of the RBL he says that his visits to Villamartin, where he shares an apartment with son Tony, will be much more frequent, as he intends to get to know the members of his new branch rather better.

The main photograph shows Eddie Coleman, Vice Chairman of the Orihuela Costa and District Branch of the Royal British Legion, along with Graham
Flood, Percy, Nicky Evans and son Tony.