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Veteran returns to Hampshire barracks for first time in 60 years
HE was 18 years old when he first arrived at a Hampshire barracks in 1950.
On Tuesday (October 15), aged 81, Ron Hands returned to his former home for the first time in 61 years, bringing back a wealth of memories despite major changes over the decades.
Mr Hands was a member of the 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade and lived at Peninsula Barracks, Winchester, from 1950-1952.
He said: “I’m over the moon to be back. It brings back an awful lot of memories of my old mates. It was lovely to have a look round and I couldn’t have picked a better day for it.
“I could not believe being back in the square. I used to walk miles around the square and now it is a beautiful garden. It would not surprise me if the thousands of soldiers who passed through here and then never returned from battle were still here in spirit.
“I don’t show it but I’m quite emotional about it inside, and these memories have only scratched the surface.”
But the barracks were vacated in the 1980s and a site that once saw Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower review troops was turned into flats at the turn of the millennium.
The Royal Green Jackets museum remains dedicated to preserving military history, where Mr Hands was given a tour by former curator and now volunteer Ken Gray.
Mr Hands, who lives near Bournemouth, added: “I think what Ken and the staff do here is excellent. I hear schools come and visit here and I think that’s good for children to keep up to date with what the old soldiers did.
“My grandfather fought in World War One and was gassed at Ypres. I knew very little about him but coming here reminds me.”
During his time in the regiment Mr Hands served in Germany, even visiting Belsen concentration camp while it was being demolished.
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