The real life Saving Private Ryan: How a serviceman was banned from WWII after his two brothers were killed in action
A serviceman today revealed how he was banned from fighting in WWII after his two brothers were killed in action – echoing the plot of ‘Saving Private Ryan’.
Pilot officer Kenneth Walker had been sent to a training camp in 1943 when he was just 18 to prepare to follow his older siblings John and David into battle.
But shortly after arriving John was killed and then just months later in 1944 David also died.
Kenneth was unaware his parents had then begged the MoD to ensure they didn’t lose all three sons in the Second World War.
The MoD agreed and an order was sent to Kenneth’s training African – stating that he should never leave the base.
He was forced to sit out the rest of the war and didn’t see any action and eventually left the forces in 1946.
The incredible story took place more than 60 years before the film Saving Private Ryan – in which a brother is also banned from fighting after the deaths of his brothers.
Grandfather-of-ten Kenneth, 89, of Parracombe, Devon, has now spoken for the first time about how his war was brought to an end by his brothers’ deaths.
He said: “It would have been quite delayed by the time I had got the news. It was very sad but in those days you didn’t really talk about it.
“All these chaps were coming through and then being sent off once they had completed their training and instructing, but I just stayed there.”
The rare reprieve came after Mr Walker left his childhood home in Torrington, Devon, to follow John and David into the Armed Forces.
John had moved to India, where he joined the 2nd Battalion 1st Punjab Regiment when war broke out in 1939. His brother David joined the Territorial Army in Torrington.
Both men were eventually sent to Burma where John died in 1943 aged 24.
David joined John’s former regiment and earned the Military Cross for gallantry before he too was killed in 1944 at he age of 23.
Kenneth, meanwhile, had joined the RAF at the age of 18 and was sent to a training facility in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, waiting to be deployed.
But following the death of his second brother and order came the MoD demanding Kenneth stay on base.
Having arrived at the camp to prepare for had to remain there rest of the conflict before leaving the forces in 1946.
After the end of hostilities Kenneth worked for oil giant Shell for the next 30 years running depots around the world.
Saving Private Ryan was loosely based on the story of the four Niland brothers from New York who served in World War II.
After the reported deaths of his three siblings Frederick Niland was ordered back to the States.
The film, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Hanks and Matt Damon, earned huge critical acclaim and won five Oscars.