Published On: Wed, Nov 5th, 2014 on 2:00 pm

Blind veteran from Huddersfield to march to the Cenotaph in London

Derek Stead Blind Veteran

A WW2 veteran from Huddersfield will be attending the annual Remembrance Sunday march to the Cenotaph in London.

Derek Stead, 88, will join over 100 other marching blind and visually-impaired veterans on 9 November, as part of the Blind Veterans UK contingent.

At the age of 16, Derek volunteered to join the Merchant Navy in 1942. He aided British forces transport food, supplies and arms from across the world, despite German blockades.

As well as carrying supplies for the war effort, the Merchant Navy was also involved in many of the troop landings in the Mediterranean.

Derek said: “The ship I was on helped transport the 8th Army from their campaign in North Africa to the invasion of Sicily. The worst part of the landings was always the bit beforehand. No one was allowed to smoke or talk and it was incredibly tense.

“We would arrive at Palermo beach and instantly there’d be gunfire, rockets and goodness knows what else. At times I never thought I’d see another sunset.”

Nearly sixty years after leaving the Merchant Navy, Derek began to have difficulties with his sight.

He said: “I was coming back from holiday and noticed that I was struggling to see some of the road signs.

“I went to my opticians and I was diagnosed as severely vision impaired. They found that a blood vessel at the back of my eye had leaked and it was making my sight blurry. Within six weeks, I was registered blind.”

Derek, who received free and comprehensive support from Blind Veterans UK, will now be representing the charity at the Remembrance Sunday march to the Cenotaph.

He said: “We all ought to remember those who made sacrifices. I was extremely lucky to make it back home after the War.”

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