Second World War veteran donates Anne Frank book to library to ensure stories are not forgotten

A Second World War veteran has donated the book about Anne Frank he was presented in the Netherlands to his local library after seeing how interested schoolchildren were in the story.

Simeon Mayou was presented with his Anne Frank book in Holland
Simeon Mayou was presented with his Anne Frank book in Holland

Simeon Mayou sailed the treacherous Atlantic Convoy routes and helped the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day, and has always found the story of Anne Frank fascinating.

The 97-year-old said: "I read in the Express & Star how children at a Wolverhampton school were holding an Anne Frank exhibition and I wanted to do my bit.

"What she went through was awful really. We have had a taste of isolation because of Covid but she kept a diary about it, I love that local children still want to learn about her."

He added: "I was presented with a very special book about Anne Frank by the Dutch when I was over there with the Normandy and Market Garden Veterans Association. I have now put it in Pelsall Library with the strict instruction that anyone who is interested can borrow it."

Pupils at The Khalsa Academy held a two week exhibition on Anne Frank, the German-Dutch schoolgirl who was murdered by the Nazis after hiding in a hidden room for years, and Simeon wants to tell his story to schoolchildren.

And he has a few to tell - as part of the Royal Navy Patrol Service, Simeon saw action throughout the global conflict and has the medals to prove it.

He was awarded France's highest honour Legion D'Honour and is very proud of the Silver Badge, as his patrol service was the only part of the Navy to receive the honour.

He said: "I would love children to hear about what we all went through, and about all my mates, and all the men we lost.

"There are not many veterans left now, I know that, but I am still young enough to put a smile on a woman's face and can tell a story or two, or three."

Simeon, who was born in Pelsall, had two sons, and still lives there now, talks fondly of the ship he called home - HMS Fusilier.

Simeon's ship in World War Two - HMS Fusilier

"Every ship had its own character, ours was based on a trawler so it was ocean-going but we were armed to the teeth. Our guns could go vertical, so we could go close to the beaches and bombard them."

Simeon's brother Eric also served in the Navy in World War Two, and he described a chance meeting: "When I bumped into him in Gibraltar and he was on another class ship and he could not believe our guns, and how many we had. I always ribbed him about it.

"At the end my ship was sold off for scrap, our ship had character, we were rough and ready."

He added: "The patrol service did not get the publicity other parts of the Navy did but I am still here to tell the stories how we would protect the convoys in the Atlantic. Those U-boats sunk so many ships, but they never sunk our ship.

"We got on top of them too, so for our reward we were sent down to Normandy for D-Day. The weather was atrocious. "

Simeon is an active member of veterans associations and met the Duke of Cambridge at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas last year.

He added: "I am looking forward to going back to Normandy again later this year, it would be great if schoolchildren saw what we did, there are precious few of us who were in that war."

Simeon often thinks of his days at sea, the men he served with and the officers who would turn a blind eye to uniforms not being worn on duty because they knew how dangerous life was in the Atlantic Convoys.

Simeon said: "Our ship would go down 60 foot and then up again on the waves in a storm.

"We loved when the weather was that bad because it meant the U-boats could not get us, we could have a kip.

"I liked going on rollercoasters as an older man as it was the only thing that reminded me of being in a storm on a ship with my mates."

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