A wonderful Second WW send-off from the Union Jack Club on 2nd of May 2014 afternoon departing London en route to Holland.

Every year all the Second World War veterans are enrolled in a Veterans Road Trip to Holland which consists of a convoy of about 80 London Black Cabs. Out Senior tutor Ion Paciu is telling us a few words about this important event which he has been witnessing ever year since 2011:

“We’ve been working with the Union Jack Club for about 4 years now and I have been granted the huge honour to photograph the Second World War veterans “send off” to Holland every year. The more I take part in this event the more I feel like I travel in time. The Second World War veterans are set off in a convoy of black cabs from the UK to the Netherlands every year and I feel privileged to witness and document this event with my camera, and not only.

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Second World War Veterans Cab Leaving Portrait at the Union Jack Club London

The veterans are set off  in a convoy of about 80 black cabs to Netherlands where they will be guests of honour during the country’s national liberation day celebrations on 5 May. The veterans who are participating are aged between 85 and 94 and every time I take part in this send off I realise that this may be their final chance to meet up with their Dutch comrades and celebrate the union between British and Dutch armed forces which was a very important historic event and which led to the liberation of the Netherlands in 1945. While waiting for the cabs to arrive and departure preparations the veterans are sharing their stories with me and other  members of the club. Such a pleasure to listen to their stories.

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Second World War Veterans leaving the Union Jack Club in London

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Second World War Veterans getting on to the Black Cabs form the Union Jack Club in London

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Second World War Veteran getting in the black cab at the Union Jack Club London

One of the oldest veterans in the group was James Baker from Blackpool, a former British Royal Marine of 544 Assault. He was a D-Day veteran and he will be 92 on his next birthday. James was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his heroic actions on the D-Day. While I was organising the group shot of the veterans this year, on our way to the Library of the Union Jack Club, James proudly sung a marine song, very loud, in the lobby of the Club. It was an amazing moment and for the moment I forgot about the camera, the pictures, and everything else and I was listening to his song which made me feel so excited.

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Second World War Veteran Corporal James Baker with kids at the Union Jack Club in London

Despite his age and being very fragile James Baker is every year determined to make it to Holland where he will reunite with some of his old friends from the war time. I am sure he will spend his time there singing on the music night. See below a portrait of James Baker which I made last year.

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Second World War Veteran Corporal James Baker – Portrait – At the Union Jack Club London

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Second World War Veteran Corporal James Baker at the Union Jack Club

“Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot, but he will remember with advantages, what feats he did that day.” Henry V 

Jim was brought up in Blackpool in the North of England. Asked if he could remember when he joined the Army, Jim replied without hesitation:

“That’s easy; of course I remember. It was ‘All Fools’ Day’ – 1st April 1941. It was a week before my 18th birthday. They signed me up and I was sent pretty much straight away to the CTC-RM in Lympstone. This was the Commando Training Centre. I don’t recall exactly when the change was made, but in the early stages of the War there was no such thing as a ‘Commando’.”  from the D Day Revisited

Another portrait made at the Union Jack Club London this year in May.

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Second World War Veteran Corporal James Baker – Portrait at the Union Jack Club London

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Second World War Veteran Corporal James Baker leaving the Union Jack Club

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Second World War Veterans Group image at the Union Jack Club London

Some images from last year send off when guests of honour Al Murray and Boris Johnson fan of veterans took part in the send off of the veterans en-route to Holland.

Al Murray and Boris Johnson came along at the Union Jack CLub to see the veterans depart for Holland in Black Cabs. Al and Boris spent some time with the veterans, listening to their stories and shaking hands. The veterans were delighted to have such guests witnessing their departure.

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Second World War Veterans with Boris Johnson

Second World War Veterans with Al Murray and Boris Johnson

Second World War Veterans with Al Murray and Boris Johnson

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Second World War Veterans with Boris Johnson

More images from the veterans  send off to Holland.

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Second World War Veterans Group Image

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Second World War Veterans at the Union Jack Club – with Ricky

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Second World War Veterans getting into a black cab at the Union Jack Club

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Second World War Veteran Portrait at the Union Jack Club London