Libya trip for a WW2 hero

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THE daughter of a Second World War veteran from Mansfield has described the emotional journey she took with her father to Libya where he had fought in the Battle of Tobruk.

Angie Peppard and her dad Joe Turner, who lived on the Ladybrook estate, travelled to Tripoli in Libya before heading west to Tobruk in November last year.

Mr Turner died shortly after they returned to the UK at the age of 92.

During the Second World War, Mr Turner had served with 1st Battalion the Sherwood Foresters Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment and had fought at the Battle of Tobruk in 1942, where he was captured as a prisoner of war (POW). He was then taken to Italy.

Angie says that her father did not speak about his experiences during the war while she was growing up.

She said: “He never really talked about it much until quite recently when he spoke about it at great length to his grandchildren and their friends. They spent many hours with my dad listening to and enjoying his stories.”

In his later years, Mr Turner began to talk more about his experiences and in 2005 he wrote his memoirs as a lasting legacy.

And last year Angie heard about a charity called the Heroes Return Fund which helps finance trips for veterans to travel back to the places where they served.

She said: “I rang him and asked where he would return to if he had the opportunity. Without hesitation he said ‘Tobruk’ so we filled in the application forms. It was the first time - at 92 - that he had flown.”

During their visit, the pair took the long journey to Benghazi, the port where Mr Turner left as a POW.

Angie said: “We looked out over the sea and my dad recalled his memories of the terrible journey in the back of a truck from Tobruk to Benghazi and how many men died before they reached the port.

“Getting into the hold of the boat was an ordeal for most of the soldiers, as they were too weak to hold onto the vertical ladder and they fell to the floor. Many more died of dysentery on the journey over to the Italy and the prisoner of war camp.

“It was a very emotional and challenging journey for dad and for me – I was blown away by the sheer number of graves which stand on the actual battle site in a bleak desert land outside the present city of Tobruk.”

Soon after his six-day trip, Mr Turner became unwell and he died on 27th December. He was cremated at Mansfield crematorium on 10th January.

Shortly before he passed away, Mr Turner told Angie that he ‘would not have missed it for the world’.

Mr Turner, who was a bricklayer at Bilsthorpe pit for 32 years, was well-known in Ladybrook and Skegby and around 80 people came to his funeral.

Angie said: “He was such a kind man. He loved walking and would talk to people on his way round.”