Old soldiers are reunited at last

A CHANCE in a million has reunited two men who first met on the day they were called up to fight in the second world war.On June 20, 1940 a farm labourer from North Burlingham and a builder from nearby Norwich were nervous young conscripts arriving at barracks in the city.

A CHANCE in a million has reunited two men who first met on the day they were called up to fight in the second world war.

On June 20, 1940 a farm labourer from North Burlingham and a builder from nearby Norwich were nervous young conscripts arriving at barracks in the city.

After going through mortar training together they were both dispatched to the North Norfolk coast to strengthen defences and build tank traps, but the fleeting friendship appeared to be over when Arthur Tate's wartime adventures took him to Egypt and Italy while Stanley Tinkler ended up in Burma.

But in what Mr Tate's son Kenneth called a “chance in a million”, the Royal Norfolk Regiment veterans have been reunited more than 60 years later in a care home.


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Mr Tinkler, 93, who normally lives in sheltered accommodation at Hellesdon, near Norwich, arrived at Herondale, in Bridewell Lane, Acle, on a four-day rest break and began chatting to the man sitting next to him in the lounge.

He said: “I soon discovered we had been in the same regiment and when he said he used to farm in North Burlingham, something just rang a bell. As soon as he said his name was Arthur Tate I thought, 'I know that name'. We joined up together.”

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Catching up on what happened after they were parted, Mr Tinkler remarked he had been the “lucky one” - while he went from Africa to India and Burma without firing a shot in anger, his old friend had a leg blown off by a mine during his final posting to Italy.

Mr Tate, 90, who returned to farming near Norwich after the war despite his disability, admitted that some memories had faded, but he could still remember the day they joined up.

He recalled: “I remember the time we were based at Happisburgh, and cycling home to my parents' home at Upton - sometimes even without a pass.”

And he vividly remembers moving out of an Army-commandeered hotel on Cromer seafront the night before the Germans bombed it, killing many of his comrades.

Widower Mr Tinkler, who was still in Burma when the atom bombs were dropped on Japan, was employed by Norwich Corporation after the war and helped to build many of the city's housing estates.

Mr Tate, who has diabetes and is blind, will soon be going home to the Acle bungalow he shares with his wife Joan, but he pledged he would not be losing contact with his friend again.

His daughter Beryl Graver said: “I thought it was really special they should meet up again.”

She said she had written down some of her father's wartime memories for future generations of the family to share.

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