Second World War veteran and prisoner of war from Ipswich dies aged 102

Alan Downard has passed away aged 102

Alan Downard has passed away aged 102 - Credit: Jane Bradburn

A Second World War veteran from Ipswich, who was the last surviving member of his regiment, has sadly died at the age of 102.

Alan Downard, a member of the 67th Medium Regiment RA (TA) and a resident of Felixstowe, died on Friday, February 26. 

Mr Downard was born in Ipswich in 1919 and grew up to be a mechanic at Lock and Stags garage before the war.

In 1938 when the war was looming, he joined the Territorial Army and two years later he was called up to the regiment. 

After a period of training to become a mechanical engineer, Mr Downard was put in charge of transport.

Alan Downard in his 67th Medium Regiment R.A T.A uniform during the war

Alan Downard in his 67th Medium Regiment R.A T.A uniform during the war - Credit: Ipswich War Memorial

At the tender age of 20 he got married to his wife Florence who was serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service at the time. 

He was first sent to fight in the Middle East, and in 1942 he was captured at Tobruk and was among thousands of soldiers taken to prisoner of war camps in Italy and then to Germany. 

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In the camps, he used his mechanical skills to build a stove, a heater and a radio transmitter.

In the winter of 1944/45, he was forced by the Germans to march 80km through snow and ice, and only had melted snow to drink and very little food, before he was then liberated by the Americans. 

After the war, Mr Downard settled down in Ipswich working as a a mechanic once again. He enjoyed his family life with his wife and two children Miles and Madeleine. 

He was always keen to use his mechanical inventiveness, turning an old ambulance into a campervan and always willing to help those he came across who had broken down on the road . 

Mr Downard took every opportunity to enjoy life, and, in his retirement, he enjoyed travelling and going on cruises, and went round the world twice. 

He was always a familiar sight riding his mobility scooter through Felixstowe, something he did right up until a few days before his death. 

Mr Downard's experiences, as well as his fellow 67th Medium Regiment veterans, are celebrated in an exhibition at the Felixstowe Museum.