A SECOND World War veteran has been given a hero’s welcome at the nursery school his great-grandson attends.

Alec Wigham, who is 96, served with the Green Howards, and took part in the Normandy landings on D-Day.

He joined youngsters from Wingate Community Nursery School, in east Durham, who observed a minute of silence at the war memorial outside at 11am today.

Mr Wigham, who was called up aged 18, in 1941, showed pupils his uniform, war medals and pictures of him as a soldier.

The Northern Echo:

Alec Wigham during his army days

He also chatted to his great-grandson, two-year-old Alex Woodhouse, who attends the nursery and is named after him.

Alex’s mother, Amanda Wigham, said: “When he first joined up they asked him to drive a truck to Germany and he said: ‘No bother’.

“He had never driven before in his life. He just got in and drove a big lorry full of troops.

“He was on the beach on D-Day. He remembers being on the big boat and he remembers being on the beach firing. But he cannot remember getting off the boat.

“It must have been so traumatic that he has blocked that bit out of his mind.”

The Northern Echo:

Mr Wigham was born in Thornley, the son of a miner, and married Joan, who died in August, and the couple had a son, three grandchildren, four great grandchildren and two great, great grandchildren.

Mr Wigham, who became a Sergeant in the army and now lives in Devine Care Home in Station Town, said: “I was 18 when I was called up so I had to go.

“If you did not you went to prison. They gave you a cardboard box and told you put your clothes in there and they sent them home.

“It was alright. You did not think about it really. You just accepted that you were in the army and put the uniform on.

“You just did as you were told. If a man with three stripes on his arm told you to do something you did it.

“I have enjoyed my visit here to the nursery. You cannot come into a place like and not be happy with all of the toddlers here.

“But is important that they learn about what happened.”

Children at the nursery enjoyed poppy-themed fairy cakes, presented Mr Wigham with a painting of poppies by Emily Stones and sang It’s A Long Way To Tipperary as part of the remembrance commemorations.

Nursery headteacher Becky Wood said: “It is something we take very seriously.

“Even though the children are so young, we are not shy about talking to them about something like this.

“They are two, three and four so it is obviously in a simple enough way for them to understand.

“We think children are more capable than they are given credit for and today has been really meaningful.

“We have been talking about why we need to remember our soldiers on this special day.

“The children have been calling Alec ‘Our soldier’ and to them, Alec won the war.”