Afghanistan veteran with medals and child

A personal commemoration of World War One

7 November 2014

A personal commemoration of World War One

On Remembrance Weekend, we hear from veteran Ron Crisp about his personal act of remembrance for his namesake uncle who died fighting in World War One.

A personal commemoration of World War One

The centenary year of the outbreak of World War One has been filled with many moving stories about national acts of remembrance. Here we learn about one man’s personal commemoration of his family’s World War One sacrifice.

Veteran Ron Crisp is a resident at SSAFA’s St Vincent’s Care Home for older people with a serving connection. At 95 years old, Rons story spans two world wars and a long life since then. Throughout that time, SSAFA has been there providing lifelong support men and women like Ron and their families.

Ron's namesake uncle

Born in 1918, just one year after the First World War ended, Ron is named for his uncle Ronald. His uncle had emigrated and was living in Australia but when war broke out, the British colonies were called upon to join the British Empire troops.

When Ron’s mother was pregnant and expecting him, his uncle requested: “Make sure – if this one is a boy - you name him after me.” Sadly his uncle was killed by a direct hit from a machine gun in 1918 before Ron was born. But his mother fulfilled her promise and named her baby after his uncle.

'I saw his headstone with my name on'

With this strong connection, it was important for Ron to commemorate the death of his namesake uncle with his own act of remembrance. He says: “When I visited the World War One war graves, I saw his headstone with my name on, which was a very strange feeling.”

Ron was a young man when World War Two broke out. He had joined up in 1937 as a Territorial Soldier with the Essex Regiment, now the Royal Anglian Regiment. Ron saw service in Normandy, where he landed at Arromanches, and in Egypt and Palestine, before leaving the Forces in 1946.

After he left the Army, Ron worked for his local authority as a heating and ventilation engineer. He married and had children. But when his wife died, Ron was living by himself. He kept having accidental falls and sometimes even landing in hospital. While Ron is very proud of his service career, it has left him with severe hearing loss as a result of his time working with a heavy anti-aircraft regiment. As Ron explains, “Lots of the guns and materials we used in the Second World War originated from the First World War. There was no protective equipment like you get today, and it didn’t do my ears any good.”

'I like the way SSAFA do things'

When Ron’s daughter, who lives on the Isle of Wight, came to hear about SSAFA St Vincent’s Care Home she thought it would be a good place for him. Ron took to it immediately, he says: “I came here for a two weeks visit to look around the place. But I made some friends and settled in well.”

“The ex-service connection is important to me. And I like the place, I like the people. It is a home from home.”

Ron has a long connection with SSAFA – from fundraising for us during his serving days to moving into his current home with us. He says, “SSAFA had a good name back then and still does now – I like the way they do things.