St Albans blind veteran to march in London on Remembrance Sunday
PUBLISHED: 09:00 10 November 2018
A blind veteran from St Albans is set to march at the Cenotaph in London to mark the centenary of World War I.
Mike Tetley MBE, 88, will be marching on Sunday, November 11 with the charity Blind Veterans UK to commemorate the Armistice, alongside 100 other visually impaired ex-service men and women.
He said: “I have marched every year at the Cenotaph since 1960 but this year has an extra significance with the anniversary of the end of the First World War.
“My father fought in WWI in East Africa, which is how, eventually, I ended up in Kenya. A lot of people don’t realise the numbers lost there, particularly in the Carrier Corps - tens of thousands of those men died and they’re almost completely forgotten. I will be remembering them.”
Mike was conscripted while living in Kenya in 1953. His knowledge of Swahili led to a transfer into the King’s African Rifles, where he took part in British efforts to suppress the Mau Mau rebellion.
In 1954 Mike was shot in the head, changing his life forever.
He said: “I got a bullet which went in my right ear and blew out my left eye and left me with no light perception. I remember a terrible pain, stooping to pick up my gun, and then everything went black.
“Seven men then came to cut me up - my batman stood alone over me, and he killed all seven before they could get to me. So I was lucky.”
Mike returned to Britain six weeks later and spent a year with Blind Veterans UK (then St Dunstan’s) at their centre in Sussex. There he recuperated from his injuries and learnt braille, with the charity funding his training as a physiotherapist - a career he continues to this day.
Retired Major General Nick Caplin CB, chief executive of Blind Veterans UK, said: “Remembrance Sunday is a very poignant time for our blind veterans as we reflect on the sacrifice and service of all members of the Armed Forces.
“Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 in response to the more than 3,000 veterans who were blinded as a result of the First World War.
“Today we support more blind veterans than ever before in our history, but we know there are many more who still need our support to rebuild their lives following their sight loss.”