War veterans strike up friendship in Rushden

Bob Buckee was in the army and Burt Ross was in the air force

Bob Buckee was in the army and Burt Ross was in the air force

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Two Second World War veterans have become friends more than 60 years after one fought on the ground while the other flew overhead.

Bob Buckee and Bert Ross both served their country during the Second World War, although their roles in the Army and the Air Force were very different.

Bob Buckee was in the army and Burt Ross was in the air force, after both returning safely from the war they ended up living in Rushden and have only just become friends through the Salvation Army.'Pictured: A copy photograph of Burt Ross when he was in the air force. NNL-140919-163924009

Bob Buckee was in the army and Burt Ross was in the air force, after both returning safely from the war they ended up living in Rushden and have only just become friends through the Salvation Army.'Pictured: A copy photograph of Burt Ross when he was in the air force. NNL-140919-163924009

Now both in their 90s, the pair have got to know each other through the Salvation Army in Rushden and have since been able to recall and share the times they spent in the forces.

Bob, 90, who was a machine gunner as part of a three-man patrol and spent a lot of time in the Middle East and Italy, said: “Those who say they weren’t frightened are telling lies.

“It is frightening.

“The worst thing is when you lose your mates, I remember them all.

Bob Buckee was in the army and Burt Ross was in the air force, after both returning safely from the war they ended up living in Rushden and have only just become friends through the Salvation Army.'Pictured: A copy photograph of Bob Buckee when he was in the army. NNL-140919-163712009

Bob Buckee was in the army and Burt Ross was in the air force, after both returning safely from the war they ended up living in Rushden and have only just become friends through the Salvation Army.'Pictured: A copy photograph of Bob Buckee when he was in the army. NNL-140919-163712009

“You never forget, you can’t forget, you shared everything.

“If we only had one cigarette between us, we had a drag each.

“We would be behind enemy lines and you didn’t know how you would get back.

“We were working under the cover of darkness most of the time.”

Bob, who was born in Irchester, volunteered when he was only 17-and-a-half years old and said: “I volunteered to go, I told them I was 18 and I got in.”

Friendship and teamwork was a big part of life in the forces, and Mr Buckee is thrilled to have now become friends with Bert.

He said: “It’s lovely to meet Bert, we both go to the Salvation Army together.

“We get on so well together, we are good friends.”

He added: “Bert remembers flying over us in the tanks, he could see the buildings below and I could see the planes.

“He was upstairs and I was downstairs.

“They said there’s only a few of us left in Rushden and I don’t know anyone else.”

Bert, 95, who served in places including the Middle East, Cairo and Casablanca, said: “We sat next to each other here and he was telling me about his Army career.

“He had been in the tanks while I was flying across.”

Bert was a pilot in the RAF, including ferrying US airmen across the Atlantic.

Both men are keen for other people, especially youngsters, to hear about their experiences of war and learn from it.

Bob said: “People ought to know about these things.

“They don’t realise that you put your life on the line every day.”