Our WW2 Henley Hero Celebrates His 103rd Birthday

Henley’s WW2 hero, Dickie Charlton celebrated his 103rd birthday on Friday at Chilterns Court Care Home surrounded by family and friends.

He enjoyed a birthday tradition lunch of an all day breakfast with half a pint of Carlsberg at The Catherine Wheel and afterwards enjoyed a sing-a-long and cake back at the home.

Dickie received over 50 birthday cards from residents and school children thanks to local friend and resident Richard Pinches who asked if people could send him a card as it would make his day on Facebook a week or so ago.  St Mary’s School card was the biggest one and had a 103 candles on which had been decorated by a different pupil.  We loved the one from Tom which said, “103 is such an amazing age to be and there aren’t many who have lived as long as you have!  Thank you so much for your service to our country, its people like you who make me happy to be English.”

Dickie was born in Wargrave Road and was called up to fight when the Second World War broke out in September 1939. He served with the 4th Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in WW2 and was taken a prisoner of war after the Battle of Cassell in May 1940.  Dickie and other prisoners were taken to Lamsdorf, on the German/Polish border, where they were to remain for 4 years. It wasn’t until 7th January 1945 that Dick saw freedom, after being liberated by the Americans. He faced a four month march to Brussels before he could be flown back to the UK for 5 weeks’ leave.  He is thought to be the last surviving member of the Light Infantry. After returning from war he became Head Gardener for the Pickthorne family where he lived in a tied cottage off Peppard Lane and met Doris the nanny who became his wife in 1961.  They moved to Luker Avenue in 1975 when the family sold the property but continued to garden for people into his 70s including Agatha Christie!

Dickie was joined on Friday by his daughter Shirley, son-in-law Nick, Alex (grandson) and his wife Jessie and their daughter Maisie (great granddaughter) and Emily (great granddaughter) who travelled from Mid Wales, Cheltenham and Sandbach.  Nick said, “He’s still really sharp and when we go out in Henley in it is so lovely that everyone stops us to say hello to Dickie.”

What’s the secret to his grand age? Dickie replied, “Hard work and enjoying life.”  He added, “It’s lovely to have all the family here.  I was really surprised to receive all these cards.  I would like to thank everyone who sent me a card.”


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