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Former Grenadier Guard to celebrate 100th birthday at Linden Court

Leonard Boxall, who lives at Linden Court in Watton, celebrates his 100th birthday on Friday 5th April. Len was a Grenadier Guard and recently had his lifetime wish of wearing the ceremonial dress of the Guards, courtesy of Steve Hayes and Terry McLenahan of the Norfolk Association of The Grenadier guards.

Len enlisted in 1939 before the start of the Second World War, signing up for 12 years. He said he chose The Grenadier Guards because he liked the red uniform and the bear skin Hat! When he first enlisted, he worked at Windsor Castle, where he remembers the Queen as a young girl.

He served in France, Italy and Africa. When the War started, he was sent to the front line and was captured in Italy two years before the War ended, spending the last two years of the war in a German Prisoner of War camp. Len says that it was not all bad; he remembers learning to dance and said that he could not wait to get home and dance with his sweetheart Nora Abbott who eventually became his wife. Len and Nora were married for 77 years, before she sadly passed away in 2018.

While in Africa, Len’s unit was spotted by a German patrol and dug into shallow foxholes – a shell exploded and shrapnel went through his helmet into the side of his head. He remembers having a near death experience. He also remembers one time he was marching and happened to be the one to carry the radio battery. They were fired at and he heard a ricochet very close by. Later on when inspecting his kit he realised that the battery had been hit – another near miss.

Len spent 7 years in active service and 5 years in the reserves. During his service he only ever got to wear fatigues but always wanted the opportunity to wear the ceremonial dress. He only recently spoke about this and said it was his last wish to be able to wear this uniform. Thanks to The Grenadier Guards Association, he has been able to finally do this after many years waiting.

Len’s celebrations will begin with a party on his birthday at 2.30pm on Friday 5th April at Linden Court with an entertainer, a buffet tea and of course a special cake. He will also be celebrating again with a family party on Saturday 6th April at Dereham Church hall.

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