HE was born in the year World War I ended and served with distinction during World War II.

A veteran of Dunkirk and El Alamein, Harry Wilson has died aged 102.

He was born into poverty in Northam in 1919. Harry lost siblings in infancy and saw his mother live a hard life with her husband away at sea for years at a time. At a young age, he took a job as a grocer’s delivery boy, riding his bike around the hilly streets of Bitterne and Townhill Park. Harry handed all his wages over to his mother and helped raise his siblings.

Before the war, Harry met Rosemary as he drove past her in his fuel truck. She would wave at him and their long life together started. They were married in 1940, shortly after his return from Dunkirk, when Rosemary was just 17 and Harry 21. Their happy marriage lasted until Rosemary’s death in 2014. They were blessed with four children, Graham, Keith, Jean and Susan, but tragically lost their eldest son to pneumonia shortly before his second birthday and their eldest daughter to Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 42.

Having witnessed his mother's struggles, Harry was a pioneering husband who would iron, cook and clean and was always an equal partner in the home.

At the outbreak of World War II, Harry joined the Royal Artillery. On his first Christmas Day in the Army he undertook sentry duty at Fort Brockhurst, before forming part of the British Expeditionary Force sent to France.

Having been forced to abandon his vehicle during a retreat to the beaches of Dunkirk, he managed to find relative sanctuary under the promenade where he could hear German bombers overhead. Volunteering as an ambulance driver to rescue the wounded earned him a place on one of the last boats to leave Dunkirk, where he slept on deck all the way to Dover.

War later took Harry to North Africa where he took part in the Battle of El Alamein, which proved a turning point in the war in that region. His days of active service came to an end in Egypt, thanks to an exploding shell.

In 1954, Harry and Rosemary bought the bungalow in Sholing where they would spend the rest of their lives.

Working for many years at Pirelli General and Folland Aircraft, Harry always did all his own DIY and car maintenance. Age didn't slow him down and he had to be persuaded to no longer climb ladders when he was well into his 90s.

He was always smartly dressed, even when tending his much-loved garden and enjoyed reading, music and coach holidays.

Harry also leaves eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.