PUBLISHED: 11:35 05 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:26 23 August 2010
WAR veterans displayed true ""Dunkirk spirit"" as they defied the freezing temperatures and blizzard conditions that crippled the country this week.
WAR veterans displayed true "Dunkirk spirit" as they defied the freezing temperatures and blizzard conditions that crippled the country this week.
Arctic snow storms hit north Kent and south-east London on Sunday night, bringing with it more than six inches of snow and paralysing public transport across the south east.
One member of Bexley Veterans Club, based in Danson Road, Welling, walked FIVE miles in the snow to play snooker after hearing the buses were cancelled.
His bid to soldier on regardless was echoed around north Kent by ex-servicemen who carried on with their daily routines as millions missed work and the country ground to a halt.
Disabled Len Ostheimer, 59, former Royal Engineer, of Wellington Street, Gravesend, said: "Years ago people managed to get to work in six feet of snow.
"Nowadays it seems that a little bit of snow falls on the roads and everything comes to a standstill.
"Back in 1947 there was a terrible snow storm and people dealt with it then. Back in those days the milkman delivered milk to everyone's door first thing in the morning and he managed to get it round to everyone. I think we are breeding a load of wimps now to be honest."
Bernie Heinink, 82, of Brampton Road, Bexleyheath told the Reporter how he walked a mile from his home to the club of 250 members.
"It's absolutely ridiculous how the buses, trains and aeroplanes all stopped.
"I remember the winter of 1947, and when the snow settled it was terrible, but buses and life carried on.
"People were made of a hardier type then. During the Blitz, the buses still ran, everything kept going."
Ken Taylor, an ex paratrooper, braved the icy conditions to visit the club on Tuesday.
He said: "Life has got very soft now. I was told you went to school come what may, even if snow was in your ear-holes. There were no excuses in those days.
"I wonder if life did get hard again, whether people would pull through. You can have too soft a life."
Other hardy war veterans were left baffled as to why the country came to a complete stop.
Albert Bennett, 94, a World War Two Burma Star RAF veteran of Tudor Close, Dartford, didn't let the prospect of heavy snow put him off attending a Royal Navy Ceremony at Chatham Docks on Sunday.
He said: "I am actually lost for words as to why the whole country has come to a complete standstill.
"I have been around for 95 years or more, and I have never known the country to come to such a stop.
"The public transport isn't running, and all the schools are closed. It's unbelievable really."
Vic Jarrett, 78, of Fern Heath Way, Wilmington, was evacuated from London in 1939 during the war.
He said: "I think things have got a lot worse in the last few years, and I think that is due to health and his old mate safety coming along. I remember we had a particularly heavy snowfall in 1963, and we all did as much as we can to get to work. There wasn't the chaos that we have seen this time. We have seen much worse than this, the buses all still kept going."
Pensioner John Birch, 70, of Prescott Avenue, Petts Wood, got up at 430am on Monday to go to the market to deliver potatoes.
He said: "All the aggravation, I can't believe it. It's pathetic. Even when bombs were dropping, the buses were still running. On Monday, London seemed to die a death. Is everyone frightened to go out?
"I came out of the army in 1960 and in 1963 we had terrible winter. I was delivering potatoes all over Bromley then.
"We still carried on. We couldn't say 'oh, I can't come to work today because it's snowing.