World War II hero dies before getting the chance to marry childhood sweetheart

A World War II hero has sadly died before he got the chance to marry to his childhood sweetheart.

Decorated D-Day veteran Roy Vickerman, who was planning to wed fiancée Nora Jackson, passed away in his sleep on May 19.

The 95-year-old, from Hartshill in Stoke-on-Trent, was separated from Nora due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the happy couple hoped to press ahead with their wedding plans once lockdown restrictions were lifted.

But his health rapidly declined in his final weeks after suffering from a persistent cough and chest infection, StokeOnTrentLive reports.

His son Howie Vickerman, 63, said friends, family and fellow servicemen were planning to give his dad a fitting send-off.

"I was talking to the British Legion and the Normandy Veterans’ Association and they would like to arrange a military honour back-up," he said.

"I said that would be absolutely brilliant."

"We haven’t confirmed the date yet. My phone hasn’t stopped ringing since he passed away."

Roy became a decorated war hero after being called to serve with the Black Watch at the age of 18 in 1944. He then joined the Army Intelligence Corps.

He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was wounded by a sniper’s bullet during the invasion of Germany.

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Barely 19 years old, he returned to his family’s one up-one down home in the city's Bucknall area.

The experience on the frontline had left him not only physically injured, but suffering post-traumatic stress.

It also led to him splitting up with his girlfriend Nora, whom he'd met at school. The pair would rekindle their romance 70 years later when Roy was given Nora’s address.

He had intended to simply give her a bunch of flowers and apologise for the way their romance had ended after the war.

Instead Nora threw her arms around him and, soon after, Roy proposed using the ring he had originally given her during the Second World War.

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Nora now lives at Marrow House Residential Home, in Meir Hay. Due to the pandemic, they hadn’t been able to set a wedding date, but remained engaged right up until Roy’s death.

Howie, from Hartshill, added: “They talked on the phone and face-to-face through FaceTime.

“After he got back together with Nora, he was happier than I had seen him in years. He had a glow in his face.”

Just last year, Roy told StokeonTrentLive: "I want to be with Nora, but you have got to stay positive. The best advice I ever received from a teacher was to ‘always remember to have a positive mental attitude’."

Howie recalled how Roy was also a "brilliant dad" and was close to his grandson.

He had remained remarkably lucid and fit for his age, even taking on a cycling challenge during the pandemic. Roy managed to complete 500 miles in less than 40 days by using an exercise bike at home, raising funds for the NHS and Marrow House along the way.

His 91-year-old brother Alan Vickerman today summed him up as a "very brave man".

“We all loved Roy,” he added.

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