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WWII hero returns to Cheltenham Racecourse where he trained to fight Nazis in 1939

By The Citizen  |  Posted: March 12, 2014

Lionel Jordan

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A World War II veteran made an emotional return to Cheltenham Racecourse today - 75 years after he was stationed there preparing to fight the Nazis.

For Lionel Jordan, 92, from Tuffley, the races bring back memories of a difficult time.

The great grandfather stayed in the stables in 1939 when his army regiment was preparing to repel the Nazis during the Second World War.

He is one of the last remaining survivors of the legendary tank regiment, the Gloucestershire Hussars.

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Yesterday, Lionel was at the racecourse for the start of the festival, together with his son Terry and granddaughter Lisa.

But it was what happened 75 years ago that remains fresh in his memory.

“Those were difficult days, it was tough,” Mr Jordan said. “The stables were drafty and it was very cold. We were just going through our basic training, and I remember it well because it was so cold.

“From there they moved us into the tote buildings, but it was still cold.”

After spending the winter at the park, he went on to Salisbury to be an instructor, before moving to Glasgow and fighting in Italy and Austria.

Starting as a trooper when he was just 17 years old, he rose to the rank of sergeant before he left the armed forces in 1946.

From there he went on to marry Mary in 1950, who he met at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

He said: “I am very proud to have fought for my country. I was in the TA before I joined the Hussars.

“I was always very interested in the history of the Hussars, that’s why I joined.

“Prestbury Park has changed over the years, it is not like it was before.

“It was more primitive and nothing like this at all. I can remember we used to patrol the area with our rifles.

“There are only a few of us left now, but those were the days.

“It was difficult coming back from the war, the first 12 months were extremely tough.

“I had been away for seven years, and so much had changed.”

It was a record day at Cheltenham today with 57,098 people visiting Prestbury Park for some thrilling action beneath warm Gloucestershire skies.

Police said the first day of the world famous festival passed off peacefully.

There was one arrest made during the first day of racing at Prestbury Park.

There were three instances of pick-pocketing and two of suspected counterfeit currency.

The one man was arrested in relation to handling counterfeit money, he was detained by police and officers are investigating

Superintendent Jim McCarthy said: “Nearly 60,000 people have passed through the Racecourse gates today and we’re pleased to report that only one arrest has been necessary.

“This is thanks to the combined efforts of all the staff at the racecourse who are working together with the same aim of facilitating a safe and enjoyable festival.

“We’d like this good start to the week’s festivities to continue into the evening and for those heading out to celebrate in the town centre, please stay safe, drink sensibly and be considerate to local residents.”

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  • RoadWombat  |  March 11 2014, 10:02PM

    Good on you, Sir. A justly proud member of our great Gloucestershire Yeomanry!