Page last updated at 13:57 GMT, Sunday, 26 October 2008

Veteran saves poppy for 66 years

Mr Alf Heywood and his poppy
Mr Heywood picked the poppy from a battlefield in Tunisia

A decorated war veteran has revealed he still has a poppy he picked in a World War II battlefield while in combat 66 years ago.

Alf Heywood, 88, from Greater Manchester, picked the flower from a field in North Africa in 1942.

The great-grandfather from Middleton has carried the poppy inside his army pay book ever since and plans to donate both to the Fusiliers' Museum in Bury.

Mr Heywood served with the 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers.

He recalled picking the flower as German forces advanced towards his position and were visible on a distant hillside.

He said: "We were patrolling through this field in North Africa. It was full of poppies. I picked one and put it in my book and thought nothing of it. I only found it again a couple of years ago."

Mr Heywood, a widower, was demobilised in November 1946. He returned to Middleton and his wife Bessie, and continued his trade as a plumber until retirement.

He revealed his war-time memento while visiting a group of soldiers from the 207 Field Hospital (Volunteers) during an exercise at the Army's hospital training facility in Strensall, York.

When Mr Heywood was mobilised for service in 1942, he was processed through Strensall before joining 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers.

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