A WORLD War veteran who survived bombings in London, invasions in France and combat in Burma will celebrate his 100th birthday today (Saturday).
Tom Coulter, of College Road, Bromsgrove, was born in Ireland during the First World War in 1916 and served in the Second World War in the heavy artillery regiments.
Tom was first stationed in France in 1940 and was lucky to escape with his life after spending six months there before Germany invaded. Despite the invasion he still said being there was one of the happiest times of his life and he has had a strong love of the country ever since.
“It helped that I spoke the language so I could talk to the natives, unlike a lot of the soldiers.”
Tom even took himself back to France on several occasions and stayed with friends he has kept in touch with since the 1940s.
He remembers the war vividly and described being in London firing at the Germans with their heavy artillery. He later served in Burma from 1942 to 1945,when the atomic bomb ended the war on Tom’s birthday.
“As terrible as it was it was also the best birthday present I ever had because if it hadn’t have happened we would have been at war for another two years.
“And I don’t think we would have lasted that long.”
Having been ill for two years after the war Tom married his wife Joan in 1952 at the age of 35 and they had the first of their two daughters, Hillary in 1953.
Hillary had two children, a girl, Caitlin, and a boy who they named after Tom and who has now had his own daughter, Ella, Tom Senior’s first great grandchild.
After he retired from being a civil servant in the 1980s he followed his children to England where he eventually settled in Bromsgrove.
Joan sadly passed away five years a go but Tom still speaks lovingly of her and her picture still holds pride of place on his mantel, now joined by ‘100’ birthday cards.
He will still be celebrating his centenary with family friends and will also mark the occasion with The Royal British Legion which he has been a member of several decades.
He added: “I put my long life down to moderation. Everything in moderation.
“I have never drank a lot or anything like that.
“Just a wee whisky in an evening.”
Hillary said: “He is still very active.
“He goes for a walk everyday.
“He even took himself off to France, on his own, when he was 97, on a coach trip.”