One of the last blue beret Marines will celebrate his 95th birthday in St Albans
- Credit: Archant
One of the last blue beret Royal Marines will celebrate his 95th birthday in St Albans this week.
Now resident in a care home, Cpl Lawrence Price, known as Laurie, was 20 when he joined the Royal Marines in 1942, who at the time wore a blue beret rather than the green beret they do now.
He served in both North Africa and Italy during the Second World War, as well as in the dummy invasion of the south of France, designed to distract the Nazi forces from the real invasion being planned for D-Day.
Despite his adventures in the elite fighting force, his daughter Lesleyanne Bowness says he has never “blown his own trumpet”.
She added: “It is only when you start looking through his history you realise how much he did.”
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Laurie’s inspiration came from his father, Frederick Price, who had served in the army in the First World War, when he had the unenviable task of retrieving rifles from No Man’s Land to clean them up and return them to the soldiers.
Laurie himself served aboard LCF14 landing craft during WWII, where he also acted as the ad hoc ship’s barber.
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The crew were stationed in the Mediterranean, where Laurie took fought in both Sicily, and at the famous Battle of Monte Casino.
He also took part in a deceptive invasion of France from the south, one of the many tactics used by the Allies to deceive the Nazis, which at the time was shrouded in secrecy.
Laurie’s wife, Ann Price, said: “Those men never talked about what they did.
“He just said he had been in the south of France, so his children never knew what he had done.”
After he was demobilised in 1946, Laurie started working as a bus driver out of the Potters Bar garage in 1960, driving the 134 service to London.
He settled in Ridge village near Hertsmere, where he served as chair of the parish council for twenty years.
Lesleyanne said: “He always looked after people.
“The men in his unit were all very close. After 1987, they started coming to meet once a year from all over England.”
The group had a 50th reunion, where Laurie and a group of the veterans took part in a march at Lymphstone at the Royal Marines base.
But eventually attendance of the group began to drop, and they disbanded in 2001.
After his first wife died in 1986, Laurie remarried Ann, who moved with him to St Albans in 2014.
Laurie now resides in a care home on Verulam Road, where his family says he sometimes is haunted by his wartime experience.
“It’s quite possible he is getting PTSD,” said Lesleyanne.
“He had an operation when he was 93 and we did not know if he would get through it but he did. He’s still very fit.”