D-Day veteran, 95, urges young to do their duty and sit on the sofa

‘I served my country and did my duty, now it’s your duty to sit on the couch’: WWII heroes make emotive pleas to younger generation to stay at home while 98-year-old veteran becomes oldest person in UK to survive coronavirus

  • Harry Fenn, of Jersey, was a Royal Navy medic when allies landed in Normandy 
  • He also survived the Portsmouth bombing of 1940 after family evacuated there
  • Jack Bowden, 98, of Bolton, worked at Navy medical school and survived virus
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Britain’s last remaining Second World War veterans are calling on young people to do their duty to their country by staying on the sofa amid the coronavirus crisis.

Harry Fenn, 95, of Jersey, was just 19 when he landed on the Normandy beaches as a Royal Navy medic on June 6 1944. 

The D-Day veteran published a video on Facebook urging the public to follow the Government’s advice after the UK death toll jumped by more than 80 to 422 yesterday.

He said: ‘In 1944, I served my country and did my duty. Now it’s your duty to sit on the couch. Please save lives. It’s as simple as that.’    

Not only was Mr Fenn in the thick of the action on D-Day, he also survived the bombing of Portsmouth, where his family lived after being evacuated from Jersey in June 1940.

Jack Bowden, 98, of Bolton, worked on the production on penicillin at the Royal Navy Medical School in Clevedon, Somerset, during the war.

The 98-year-old has made a miraculously recovery after testing positive for coronavirus a week ago, but his family have still urged people to protect others and stay at home.     


Harry Fenn, 95, of Jersey, was just 19 when he landed on the Normandy beaches as a Royal Navy medic on June 6 1944


He said: ‘In 1944, I served my country and did my duty. Now it’s your duty to sit on the couch. Please save lives. It’s as simple as that.’

Blitz survivor Maureen Childs, 80, also called on the young to stay indoors wherever possible.

She told the Daily Star: ‘As soon as the sound stopped, we were all sitting there petrified because you didn’t know if you were underneath it. A virus is nothing compared to that.’ 

While in hospital for an unrelated issue, Mr Bowden was also tested for COVID-19, with the results coming back positive. 

The former pharmacist was taken to an isolation ward, but returned to his nursing home on Friday as his condition significantly improved.

Mark Bowden, the veteran’s youngest child said: ‘Myself and my partner were due to cut his hair last week, but we thought that they may well be in lockdown so we phoned the nursing home last Monday.

‘They said that they were not in lockdown but my father had been poorly during the night so I told him we would have to put off the haircut. He’s suffered from urine infections over the past 4-5 years, but he’s getting better at managing them.

‘The doctor spoke to me and had concerns that he was getting confused. He was admitted to hospital and was treated for a suspected urine infection, they felt he improved a lot over the week.

‘The doctors told me that they had tested him for COVID-19. On the Wednesday when my brother rang me to say that his test result was positive, I couldn’t believe it.

‘I spoke to my father on the phone and he said: ‘I think I’ve actually got the real thing’. He was moved to an isolation ward on Thursday.

‘By the Friday they rang me to say that they were discharging him, they said he had a healthy appetite and he was doing really well.

‘I spoke to the him on Monday morning, and he was sat up in his chair, doing really well. The consultant even wants to use him as a case study.’ 

Jack Bowden, 98, (pictured with his son Mark) worked at the Royal Navy Medical School during the Second World War and has miraculously recovered after contracting coronavirus last week

Mr Bowden’s granddaughter Nicola Hyams shared news of her grandfather’s recovery online. 

She said: ‘Everyone’s so impressed by how he managed. He’s gone back home now and by all accounts he’s doing very well. He’s complaining about having to stay in his bed.’

His daughter, Joanne Drayson, believes that the medication Jack received for the suspected water infection may have a part to play in his recovery.

She said: ‘His medication has been shown to have anti-viral properties. I believe that’s why he recovered so quickly.

‘For somebody to of his age to go into hospital on the Monday and come out again the same week is remarkable. And now doctor’s have approached him to be a case study.

‘So he was a trailblazer back in WWII and he’s clearly a trailblazer now.’

Mr Bowden, 98, worked on the production on penicillin at the Royal Navy Medical School in Clevedon, Somerset, during the war (pictured) 

The Prime Minister’s Monday evening announcement saw the biggest restriction on British civil liberties in peacetime. 

Boris Johnson warned the police would intervene if anyone was outside of their home and congregating in groups of more than two unnecessarily.

Britons are now only allowed outside of their houses to buy food, collect medical supplies and exercise once a day. 

A group of ‘key workers’, including healthcare staff, supermarket workers and teachers are allowed to go to work, but everyone who can work remotely should do so.

Yesterday the UK coronavirus death toll leaped by nearly 90 in one day from 335 to 442. 

There are now over 8,000 confirmed cases across the nation, but an Oxford University study claims more than half of the population could already be infected and we could be on our way to ‘herd immunity’.  

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