Queen's birthday message to veteran she waved off to war as a Princess

Alfred Goddard was waved off to war by the then-Princess Elizabeth ahead of the D-Day landings.

Veteran Alfred Goddard receives birthday message from Queen to celebrate 100th birthday Email

A care home resident has received a birthday message from the Queen, who 78 years ago waved him off to war as a Princess. 

Alfred Goddard celebrated his 100th birthday on Thursday at Mansfield Care’s Peebles Care Home and was delighted to receive a congratulatory letter from the monarch to mark the occasion. 

Almost 80 years ago, Alfred and his tank crew had been sent on their way with a wave by a young Princess Elizabeth as they left RAF Tarrant Rushton in Dorset to take part in the D-Day landings. 

The then-22-year-old Tank Commander had volunteered for Special Operations with the 6th Airborne Division and landed behind enemy lines as part of the landings.

Alfred’s son Mike said: “One hundred years after his birth, my dad enjoyed his second royal good wishes when he opened his personal message from that very same member of the Royal Family, not now a Princess but Queen Elizabeth II, congratulating him on his centenary.”

Badly wounded in action when a shell exploded near his Tetrach Light Tank, Alfred recovered from his injuries at Manchester Royal Infirmary, and pledged that at the end of the war he would return to marry one of the nurses who cared for him with skill and compassion during his darkest days.

For his actions following D Day, Alfred was later awarded the Chevalier (Knight) in the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur by the French Consul General to Scotland at his home in Biggar in 2016.

His next active duty was as part of Operation Market Garden at Arnhem – of A Bridge Too Far fame – where he suffered a perforated eardrum, but fortunately he survived the remainder of active service without further injury.

Alfred Goddard married his nurse Doreen, who cared for him in hospital following the war. Email

At the end of WW2, he kept his promise, returning to wed his nurse in Manchester. Alfred and Doreen Foster’s marriage produced three children, Michael, Paul and Patricia, and lasted 70 years until Doreen passed away in 2015.

Alfred remained in military service, qualifying as an army parachutist at the Parachute Training School at RAF Aqir in Palestine, later taking up posts at the Air Ministry in Whitehall then in Egypt. 

Other postings in his civilian career included RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, and at RAF Strike Command in High Wycombe where he was Command Secretary until his retirement aged 60.

In retirement, Alfred put his time and experience to good use, setting up a local branch of the Victim Support Scheme and became president of his local Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

In later life Alfred and Doreen moved to Scotland to be closer to Mike and their daughter-in-law Stephanie.

Alfred was awarded the Chevalier (Knight) in the Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur in 2016.Email

Mike, 72, said: “Their time living in Biggar saw some of their happiest years, surrounded by local family and friends and visited regularly by those further afield. 

“My dad’s more recent move into Peebles Care Home has given him the dedicated and specialist support he now needs in his later years, and it is thanks to that wonderful team that, not only has he reached this further milestone, but that he is so happy to have done so. 

“His children, grandchildren and great grandchildren have sent their love and messages from all over the UK and abroad and we are all very proud of him.”

Karen Ritchie, activities coordinator at Peebles Care Home, said: “We are honoured to be sharing in Alfred’s 100th birthday celebrations and to welcome his family on this auspicious occasion. 

“He certainly has enjoyed a century filled with adventure, bravery and wonderful family memories.”

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