SSAFA helps Arnhem glider pilot celebrate his 100th birthday

Peter Colthup, one of the last five surviving members of the Glider Pilot Regiment, has celebrated his 100th birthday at his home in Whitstable.

Volunteers of the Kent Branch of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity were there to help Peter mark the day – and to present him with a tablet to keep in him in touch with aviation news.

The Glider Pilot Regiment was raised in 1942, and its battle honours include D-Day assaults to liberate Europe such as the Normandy Landings, Pegasus Bridge, and Merville Battery.

Peter took part in the airborne assault on Arnhem, called Operation Market Garden, in September 1944. He also has the distinction of having the airfield in Wolfheze – where a monument stands to honour the glider pilots of that operation – named after him.

SSAFA was initially contacted by the Glider Pilot Regiment Society to look at support for funding for an OT assessment and some private physio treatment to help him realise his wish to attend the Cenotaph to combine this with his centenary.

During Covid, Peter became increasingly frail and became bed-bound with only daily carers coming in to attend to his basic needs.

Aside from needing help with physical rehabilitation, Peter suffered social isolation, due to Covid restrictions, which for a naturally gregarious and positive individual was extremely difficult.

Sian, a caseworker in SSAFA’s Canterbury Division, obtained funding from Support Our Paras, ABF, and RBL for both an OT assessment and short course of private physio treatment.

Sian said:

Although Peter was unable to manage the journey to the Cenotaph, his overall physical wellbeing has improved and the presentation of a tablet from SSAFA Kent has enabled him to connect with those many who wish to learn more about this particular period in World War Two – and especially from such a remarkable man.”

Following his birthday, Peter was also presented with the Dutch Liberation Medal and the Market Garden Medal by Lieutenant Colonel Richard Piso, the Military Attaché of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in London.

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