Secret of a long life? Being born and brought up in leafy Horsham

Alfred Howard with his Legion 'dHonneur medal
Alfred Howard with his Legion 'dHonneur medal

War veteran Alfred George Howard - born and bred in Horsham - celebrates his 100th birthday today.

He was born in Park View Terrace, now Gorings Mead, to mother Minnie and father Frederick, a baker, on October 25 1917.

Together with Alfred’s brother Jim, the family later moved to Barrington Road, Horsham.

Alfred attended East Parade Infants School before going on to the nextdoor East Parade Boys School, then on to Oxford Road School.

Alfred left school at the age of 14 and started his first job as an ‘oil boy’ for Haffendons Hardware, delivering paraffin.

At the age of 18 he joined wholesale tobacconists Marsh & Ruggs and played football for Horsham Thursdays.

In 1936 Alfred joined the Territorial Army and was called up when war broke out in 1939, serving for seven years in the Royal Sussex Regiment, which was disbanded in 1943.

He then served in the Queen’s Royal Regiment 1st-5th Battalion and took part in the the D-Day landings in 1944.

He was wounded in August that year and was shipped back home to England for treatment before being sent back to France on October 24.

He was demobbed in February 1947 when he was reunited with his wife Joan Daubney whom he had married on August 5 1940.

Meanwhile, he settled back into civilian life and returned to work at Marsh & Ruggs until 1967 when he left to work for the Post Office where he stayed until he retired in October 1981.

A keen sportsman, Alfred became a football referee from 1947 until 1961.

His son Rod said: “Initially there was no kit available so he dyed his Army blouson dark blue and wore his Army PT shorts.

“In fact, in his first match he wore ordinary shoes because he had no boots.”

Following his war-time exploits, Alfred received France’s top honour - the Legion d’Honneur - for his role in the Normandy landings.

Alfred’s brother Jim died in 1996 and his wife Joan died in 2008.

As well as his son Rod, Alfred has two grandsons and two great grandsons.