WWII veteran’s victory over passport chaos to attend liberation event

·2-min read
 (Jeremy Selwyn)
(Jeremy Selwyn)

A 97-year-old Second World War hero caught up in the passport crisis will travel to Holland next week for commemorations of its liberation from the Nazis thanks to the Evening Standard.

Peter Smoothy’s old document was received by the Passport Office on April 1 but the application wasn’t processed until we stepped in.

Officials finally contacted Mr Smoothy on Thursday with news his passport had been printed.

Cab driver friend Brian Heffernan drove 150 miles to Peterborough to collect it.

Mr Smoothy, of Herne Bay, Kent, served in the Royal Navy and landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.

He is one of 25 veterans travelling in a fleet of London black cabs to the Netherlands on an overnight ferry on Monday to mark the signing of the German occupiers’ capitulation at Wageningen on May 5, 1945.

Peter told the Standard: “I cannot thank everyone enough for all their help. I really thought I’d be stuck at home but now I can join the other veterans in paying our respects to those who didn’t come home.”

Organiser Dick Goodwin, of the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, added: “We have been overwhelmed with the support for our campaign.

“Peter’s MP Sir Roger Gale and the Evening Standard immediately stepped forward and we are so grateful to them and to everyone else who made representations to get this naval veteran his passport in time.”

Mr Smoothy, who also served in Italy and Burma, had been “very disappointed” his passport couldn’t be processed in time. He also wanted it before a similar journey to Normandy for the 78th anniversary of D-Day on June 6.

Brian Heffernan with Peter Smoothy's passport (Taxi Charity for Military Veterans)
Brian Heffernan with Peter Smoothy's passport (Taxi Charity for Military Veterans)

The huge backlog in passport applications has hit 700,000 people.

Families may have to cancel summer holidays after being advised the average time for processing is ten weeks.

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