WITH VE Day celebrations looming, the County Press has been talking to a Second World War veteran and Irish Guards colonel, who was stationed in Germany on the fateful day victory in Europe was declared.

The celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe will have to be virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic but the County Press is publishing a special supplement on Friday to mark the contributions of people like this.

John Anthony Aylmer, now 94, was 16 when he left school and became a recruit at the Irish Guards depot, and just 19 when he found himself marching across enemy territory.

"I became an officer at 17, and later joined the 1st battalion, and for the last three or four months of the war I joined in," said Anthony.

"We were an armoured division, and would follow behind and be released when needed.

"I was on the ground mostly, and when we had to rush or push, we'd climb onto the backs of the tanks.

"If you heard the words counter attack, you leapt straight off before a German machine gun found you.

"And sometimes, the infantry had to go ahead to deal with anti-tank equipment.

"You just had to get on with it, and hope to god there wasn't a German bullet with your name on it.

"I remember, at the Rhine, how the bridge would bobble up and down when the tanks moved across it ­— they were very glad to get to the other side.

"The Rhine was the last possible defensive line for the Germans, so we felt like we were close to victory at that point.

"On May 6, we had heard the Germans were entering negotiations, but we still had to carry on maintaining defensive positions in case they double-crossed us.

"I was near the port of Cuxhaven on VE Day. We'd had some hard fighting up there ­— the Germans were very good soldiers.

"I think all fighting soldiers respect each other on some level.

"The celebrations were nothing like they were at Hyde Park, I can tell you. We were all exhausted and just wanted a rest, really ­— a lot of us didn't feel like drinking.

"The next day, we had a service for our fallen comrades, and after that we all cheered up and had some wine.

"I stayed in Germany for a further six months, because we basically had to run the country. We were part of the clean up.

"We later returned to our base in Hampshire, and then I got drafted to go to Palestine.

"In these days, being in the army was quite fun. There were happy days after the war, and I got to travel a lot."

Anthony was stationed in seven different countries during a 40-year career with the Irish Guards, and later became a military assistant to Isle of Wight Lord Lieutenant, Lord Mountbatten, eventually retiring at the age of 65 as a colonel.

He met his wife, Shaunagh, at a party in Dublin in 1959, and they married in 1961.

They had three children in Patrick, Mary and Rosie.

"The IRA activity was pretty active at the time in Ireland, so we moved to the Island and bought Nunwell House in Brading," said John.

He continued opening the house to the public until 2012, after his wife died in 2010, at which point his daughter, Rosie, took over the house and John moved to a flat attached to The Elms Nursing Home in Bembridge.

Stories of bravery now and then will be recalled in our Heroes supplement on Friday, in the paid-for Victory publication that can be ordered from us, and in the Virtual VE Day street party on countypress.co.uk on Friday.