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100 eventful years for a real survivor

Matthew Japp celebrates his 100th birthday, served by staff at Courtfield Restaurant in Blackpool and The Fylde College. Below: Mr Japp during the Second World War.

Matthew Japp celebrates his 100th birthday, served by staff at Courtfield Restaurant in Blackpool and The Fylde College. Below: Mr Japp during the Second World War.

  • by Faye Morton
 

Blackpool and The Fylde College was home to a rare occasion as a war veteran celebrated his 100th birthday.

Former serviceman Matthew Japp was greeted by the Blackpool Mayor Eddie Collett in front of more than 60 guests, some who had even travelled in from overseas for the event.

And he was happily surprised with a reunion of members of the Royal Signals Unit who he had not seen for over 70 years.

Born in 1914, Matthew, of Illford Road, Marton has had an eventful century.

Originally from Glasgow, he moved to Blackpool at the age of 13. He walked the 60-mile journey from Manchester, where his dad has been receiving hospital treatment, with his five-year-old brother and his step sister, with only a black treacle sandwich apiece.

During Second World War, he was picked for the Royal Corps of Signals and served with the Special Wireless Group, intercepting enemy transitions.

After that he served with distinction behind enemy lines during the North Africa Campaign and took part in invasion landings in Sicily and Malta before being transferred back to the UK for D-Day.

On the infamous day he landed on Gold Beach, continuing through France to Belgium, Holland and Germany before ending at Minden where he intercepted Russian transmissions at the start of the Cold War. He was decorated by the Mayor of Caen for his role.

After the war he returned to work as manager of a grocery shop on Market Street, Blackpool.

He married Melanie, who he met when passing though Brussels, and they had 60 years together before she died.

Always a busy man, Matthew joined the Writer’s Circle and befriended Jack Russell Fearne – a friend who he wrote six Westerns with in addition to his own novels.

All of the works are set to be republished in the US as hardbacks, and the publisher sent Matthew a copy of the first book, Ghost Canyon, in time for his birthday milestone. His autobiography is currently being passed through publishers.

Matthew also worked for the Lobster Pot Group, and was a Freemason for more than 50 years.

Now in his later days, Matthew is fond of the game bowls and enjoys snooker.

The grandfather of five says the secret to a long life is “everything in moderation”.

He added: “You can’t beat a bowl of Scottish porridge with a spoonful of honey for breakfast each day.”

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