10th October 2020 - World War II Veterans meet after 75 years
Mr Albert Jarrett (left) and Mr Asterley Reginald Miller, World War 11 veterans, meeting for the !st time in 75 years.
Jamaican born Albert Jarrett, 96 and Asterley Reginald Miller, 92, followed similar paths as young men seeking to serve ‘Mother Country’ Britain while engaging in the adventures of another world far from home. It was a joy to behold the first meeting of these two World War II veterans.
Although separated by 4 years, both men enlisted in the Royal Air Force (RAF) aged 17, and then travelled to England to complete training at RAF Melksham, Wiltshire. Mr Jarrett stated that “as citizens of the commonwealth we were eager to help mother country and very excited to experience life in another world”. His tropical enthusiasm was soon tempered by the harsh English winter conditions which he recalled “came as a shock to the system”.
Both men agreed that the adventurous nature of youth and the excitement of the unknown meant that they faced each day as it came and got on with the job at hand. Mr Jarrett joked that although he wasn’t much bigger than the rifle, he put all his effort in his training and became a sharp shooter.
Mr Jarrett and Mr Miller served on different Maintenance Bases in the RAF and recounted their experiences as highly engaging and challenging. Both men performed various support roles within the RAF machinery that contributed to its function as a coordinated fighting force.
After the War, both gentleman settled in Birmingham, England where they now serve as proud patriarchs to respective families, 5 generations deep. Family members present were delighted to share in the special meeting of two veterans after so many decades. The shared history of these two families, framed by this profound occasion, will undoubtedly raise the level of awareness of the selfless service legacy established by these two gentlemen for generations to come.
Mr Jarrett with his personal letter from Mr Nicholas Devaux.
Personal letter from Mr Nicholas Devaux being read to Mr Miller by granddaughter Delorisa Banks
The genesis of the meeting was to participate in the epic journey of a wonderful project called The Log Book Project. In 2016 Mr Nicholas Devaux from St. Lucia began sending his late father, Cyril Devaux’s WWII fighter pilot’s logbook to veterans around the world, asking them to autograph it. Four years and over 100 signatures on, the book stands as a living tribute to servicemen and women around the world who risked everything for the freedoms we enjoy today. After learning of the nature and intent of this project, I readily agreed to engage with as many World War II veterans as possible, especially Caribbeans residing in the UK, to sign Devaux’s log book.
Mr Jarrett signing the log book page.
Mr Miller’s granddaughter Delorisa Banks aiding him to sign the log book page due him suffering from Alzheimer.
The log book is presently in the US, scheduled to arrive in the UK by the end of 2020. However a loose page from the book was expedited to UK to ensure that veterans, especially those not in the best of health, are able to sign. This page was duly signed by Mr Jarrett himself and Mr Miller’s granddaughter, Delorisa Banks on her grandfather’s behalf.
(left to right) Mr Albert Jarrett, WW11 Veteran RAF, Mr Asterley Reginald Miller, WW11 Veteran RAF, Donald Campbell, Veteran RAF and Mr Paul Rose, VOWS Community Enterprise.
The occasion today was ably arranged and supported by Mr Paul Rose (VOWS Community Enterprise, representing Windrush Generation) a close family member of Mr Miller. The palpable sense of pride displayed by the Miller and Jarrett families is forever part of The Log Book Project as it continues its honourable mission of highlighting these incredible service stories thereby blending past with present and indeed the future.
Blog by Don Campbell