‘A true hero who will be missed’

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A veteran who won the hearts of the nation when he leapt from his wheelchair to shake hands with Prince Charles during the VE Day celebrations in London, has died.

David Robert Merrifield, from Winchelsea, passed away on Sunday, August 16.

The 91-year-old, who lived in Spring Steps, was a member of the procession along Horse Guards Parade on May 10, as part of the events commemorating 70 years since prime minister Winston Churchill declared war to be over in Europe.

David, who was known as Bob, was one of around 1,000 surviving war veterans to attend the VE Day celebrations held in London in May.

The event was attended by The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and prime minister David Cameron and was broadcast across the nation on the BBC News.

Bob won the hearts of the nation when he jumped out of his wheelchair and walked towards Prince Charles to shake his hand.

Bob was an engineer in 151 Squadron during the Second World War and landed at Normandy.

He fixed Spitfires, Hurricanes, Lancasters.

After the war, he walked in to a trainee engineer position at the Daily Mirror with a tool bag and walked out as director of engineering after around 40 years of service.

Bob played an active role in the community in Winchelsea, where he lived for 18 years.

He was a member of the amateur dramatics group, The Winchelsea Singers, and the local RAF veterans club.

He was also a familiar face around Rye where he could be found every November collecting for the Poppy Appeal.

Bob was married to his beloved wife Ellen for more than 50 years before she passed away 12 years ago.

The couple had two children, David and Rose.

Bob has four grandchildren, Michelle, Matthew, Myles and Marie, and eight great-grandchildren, who affectionately refer to him as ‘GG Bobs’.

Myles Archer, Bob’s grandson, said his grandfather would be much-missed.

He told the Observer: “People will remember him as a gentleman and a hero.

“He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.”

Bob is being cremated at Hastings Crematorium at The Ridge, Hastings, on Tuesday September 1.

The service will start at 3.30pm.

All are welcome to go along, pay their respects and remember Bob.

Myles added: “Bob made many friends in his 91 years and as a family we would like as many there as possible.”

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