Staple Hill Army veteran reflects on life with no ‘regrets’ at age 100

Roy Maxwell had wanted to be in the army since he was a young boy, so it was a dream come true when he joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers aged 17 and then moved two years later to the No. 4 Commando.

The veteran, who served in World War II, turned 100 last month and has now reflected on his life with no ‘regrets’. Roy has lived in Bristol for around 70 years and he currently resides in Staple Hill, living independently.

He spends his free time enjoying a nice hot cup of tea every morning and watching old-school comedies and comedians such as the Two Ronnies and Tommy Cooper, as well as watching football and billiards. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends and occasionally visits a nearby golf driving range with a neighbor.

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That’s when Roy doesn’t travel – he’s been quite the jet-setter for the past 10 years. When Bristol Live asked Roy what his secret was to having such a long life, he said he thought staying in shape while in the military contributed to his good health. He continued to keep fit by always being active and keeping a large garden in immaculate condition until he was 82 years old.

His daughter Jane adds that her father rarely drinks and that he quit smoking 70 years ago when the health warning was issued on cigarettes. When asked to describe her father, she replied: “Everyone loves him, he is always charming and polite. He is reserved but always ready to help people.

“I remember as a kid he was always doing something to help someone. As a teenager, it was always my dad who picked me and my friends at clubs. Even when I was an adult, he was the first person to offer to choose friends and in-laws from Heathrow who had traveled from Iran.”

Roy was born in Rhyl, North Wales on February 22, 1922 and brought up on his grandfather’s farm. He married Tegwedd and they had their daughter Jane.

Army veteran Roy spent six years in the military. In June 1944, as part of the 1st Special Service Brigade, No. 4 Commando landed on Sword Beach, at Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, thirty minutes before the rest of the brigade. Their first objectives are to seize a strong point and a battery of guns in Ouistreham.

As part of the HQ troop, Roy arrived at 07:30 by landing craft, shortly after midnight. As he and his comrades advanced down the beach under heavy enemy fire, the French commando attachment under Phillippe Kieffer broke away to attack the German strongpoint on the seafront.

On D-Day, Lord Lovat, the Commanding Officer of No. 4, had brought his personal piper, Bill Millin, to lead the men ashore. Bill played bagpipes as his comrades fell around him on Sword Beach, Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer.

Roy and Bill remained friends after the war, when Roy often visited Bill after he moved to a nursing home.

Today there is a statue of Bill Millin above Sword Beach and attached to every lamp post lining the promenade is a banner which displays a photo of a D-Day veteran along with his name and regiment. Roy Maxwell and Bill Millin stand side by side.

Army veteran Roy Maxwell turns 100.

Sergeant Roy Maxwell left the army at the age of 23 when No. 4 Commando was disbanded and after the war he held a series of jobs working with his brother-in-law in construction, a garage, a department store and a builder’s dealer. When the builders’ merchants were sold to Jewson’s, Roy remained with them until his retirement.

Tegwedd’s poor health prevented them from traveling together, but Roy spent many holidays with his cousin in Spain, and at the age of 87 he made his first trip to Australia, traveling alone to see a pal from the army of No 4 Commando. The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans organized the trip among others and Roy continued to make these trips on his own for the next 10 years until he was 97, Roy also had his driver’s license until in 97 too he is as ‘fit as a violin’ as the saying goes.

Roy says he is very grateful to the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans and the travel opportunities he has had with them. He loves his involvement with them and looks forward to many more outings with them in the future.

Recently, Roy enjoyed a wonderful surprise party for his 100th birthday, hosted by his family. When asked if he had any regrets in life, he replied in a flash: “No, no regrets, I’m very happy about that.”

As for what awaits Roy next, maybe when Covid-19 is less of a concern for travel he will be back in Adelaide because he loves the sun there so much.

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