Royal British Legion pays tribute to passing of "great man" Corporal Charles Lewer

Royal British Legion pays tribute to passing of "great man"

Corporal Lewer at his Southfields home with his collection of medals

A young Corporal Lewer in his army days

Corporal Lewer with Wandsworth Guardian reporter Jamie Henderson in 2009

First published in News
Last updated
Exclusive by , Chief Reporter

The Royal British Legion has paid tribute to a highly-decorated D-Day veteran who dedicated his later life to educating the next generation about World War II.

Corporal Charles Lewer, 94, from Longfield Road, Southfields, died on Thursday February 7.

Cpl Lewer was a longstanding member of 'A' Company, 2nd Battalion, within the King's Royal Rifle Corps, a predecessor of the current regiment, The Rifles.

After retiring from the army, where he was an engineer, he spent the rest of his life touring schools, both at home and abroad, and raising money for his beloved Royal British Legion.

John Mason, chairman of the Royal British Legion, Putney Branch, said: "He was a great man. He lived most of his life in Southfields.

"He visited schools in the Wandsworth area telling the children what life was like during the war.

"During later years he toured schools in Holland, especially villages his unit liberated, telling the children what the war was like for people who fought in it.

"He was also very active in the Royal British Legion, Putney Branch collecting many thousands of pounds for the Poppy Appeal over the years."

Cpl Lewer arrived at Juno Beach, one of five beaches targeted by the Allies, on June 7 (known officially as D+1) and was immediately thrown into action in towns such as Falaise, Rouen, and later Abbeville.

After almost 12 months of fighting, the King's Royal Rifle ended up in Hamburg, Germany, where, in May 1945, it was finally announced the Germans had surrendered.

In June 2009, during the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landing, Cpl Lewer met Prince Charles and Camilla at a special ceremony in Normandy, in northern France.

Cpl Lewer's funeral is be held at Putney Vale Cemetery at 11am on Wednesday, February 20, and will be attended by the Kings Royal Rifle Corps, The Rifles and Putney Branch Members.



Following the 65th anniversary of The D-Day landings in northern France in 2009, reporter Jamie Henderson had the pleasure of spending the day with Corporal Charles Lewer. Here are some of his memories from the day:

He was 90 at the time, but hearing the way he recalled his war days with such vivid detail, you would never have guessed.

Like so many of his fellow soldiers, Cpl Lewer underplayed his role during the war but you could still see the raw emotion in his eyes when he described some of the horrors he endured, particularly in the Battle of the Falaise Pocket in August 1944.

He recalled: "It was absolute carnage. I lost a lot of friends. Many in the most unimaginable way."

One story he told me that day four years ago has stayed with me ever since.

At a memorial in Holland in 2009, the engineer met several Dutch survivors who had organised a magnificent tribute to the veterans.

Still visibly moved by the poignancy of the memory, he said: "I thanked two Dutchwomen who had made us feel so welcome during the war.

"But they turned to me, quite shocked, and said ‘No sir, it is us who should be thanking you, you saved our lives’."

In June 2009, during the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landing, Cpl Lewer met Prince Charles and Camilla at a special ceremony in Normandy, in northern France.

Cpl Lewer's funeral is be held at Putney Vale Cemetery at 11am on Wednesday, February 20, and will be attended by the Kings Royal Rifle Corps, The Rifles and Putney Branch Members.



Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree