Originally from Jamaica, Albert Jarrett, 96, signed up to join the RAF in 1942 on the island before travelling to the UK in 1943.
Joining at the age of 18 years old, Albert wanted to do his bit as part of the Commonwealth and move away from plans his father had put in place for him.
Training in Jamaica, Albert was soon on a ship bound for the UK, travelling via New York and spending 23 days at sea on a packed ship until his arrival.
Serving in the UK
Based at Sutton Coldfield as part of the ground crew for RAF Spitfires, Albert struggled to acclimatise to the UK weather, but soon got into the swing of day-to-day life in the RAF – sleeping with his rifle each night just in case it was needed.
He was later moved to Bomber Command in Grantham, Lincolnshire.
When VE Day was announced Albert was in Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham.
“I was overwhelmed at the joy and celebrations going on around me!”
It was a marvellous day unlike anything I have experienced since.
It was a great day and we celebrated and went along to the dancing halls to have fun – wonderful to be with so many relieved people!”
After he was demobilised in 1946 Albert went back to Jamaica but returned to the UK in 1953 as part of the Windrush generation.
“I had a duty to my home country, and it was a pleasure to serve as part of a greater commonwealth effort during the war. It was an experience that’s for sure.”
After the war Albert found work as a bus driver, got married and had a son. He is now married to his second wife, Shirley, with whom he lives with in Birmingham and has three grandchildren.
More recently Albert has also been supported by RBL when he was in need of a new mobility scooter. The scooter is essential for Albert as he uses it to do the shopping and ensure he retains his independence.
We helped him acquire funding via the RAF Benevolent Fund and Albert now has a new scooter.