The extraordinary story of a mystery Second World War soldier featured in a new exhibition has emerged after an appeal on getwestlondon.
Lance Corporal Aubrey Futerill, formerly of Wellington Road South, Hounslow, survived the Dunkirk evacuations despite three ships being sunk by German bombs as he was on board waiting to depart. He went on to take part in the D Day landings, before serving in Italy towards the end of the conflict.
The late builder appears in a new exhibition documenting the bonds forged between Allied troops and locals during the Italian Campaign towards the end of the conflict.
Roland Howley got in touch after spotting the article while trawling the website for news on his beloved Fulham FC.
The 60-year-old, who grew up in Hounslow but now lives in Chichester, described Mr Futerill as the 'salt of the earth' and one of the best friends he had ever had.
"Aubrey was at Dunkirk and on the D Day landings and every year when those two anniversaries come round I think fondly of him and mention it to my son who is now 13," he said.
"Unfortunately I cannot tell you anything about his time in Italy although I remember him mentioning it. But while at Dunkirk he had three ships blown up with him on board waiting to depart. Eventually he made it back."
In a neat twist, given the exhibition's focus on the unlikely international companionships formed from the ashes of war, Mr Howley's father Kurt Schumacher (a relation of the infamous German goalkeeper Toni Schumacher) got to know Mr Futerill after coming to the UK as a German prisoner of war, aged 19.
They struck up a friendship after meeting in the early 1960s at the Duke of Wellington pub, in Staines Road, Hounslow, which is now a Sainsbury's Local store, and would often trade memories of their army days.
Mr Howley said Mr Futerill was a keen Brentford fan and they would often attend games together at Griffin Park and Craven Cottage, where he said Mr Futerill's nephew Barry appeared for Fulham's youth team in the 1970s.
He added that Mr Futerill had helped his father redevelop their house in Great West Road, Isleworth, and his parents had gone on caravan holidays with the former builder and his wide Joan.
"The last time I saw him was at my sister's Wedding in 1979. He spent a lot of time discussing the war years and football with my German relatives and friends," said Mr Howley.
"He died shortly after of a heart attack but to this day I miss the discussions we used to have about football, boxing, politics and various other subjects."
* Did you know Mr Futerill or any of the other soldiers featured in the exhibition, which is due to open later this month in Clerkenwell? If so, please email Angelo Iudice, of Accademia Apulia UK, at firstname.lastname@example.org