'Old McDonald' relives his wartime memories


Owen Evans

A WAR veteran who is now one of McDonald’s oldest employees has relived his war memories after being awarded the Arctic Medal.

Bill Dudley, 88, spoke about his experiences after being awarded the medal for his service during the Second World War.

Mr Dudley narrowly escaped death when a torpedo came close to hitting his ship during battle – but he forgave the pilot when he met him nearly 50 years later.

And even after his war escapades Mr Dudley has not opted for life in the slow lane, having worked at the fast food outlet in Mold for seven years.

Mr Dudley, from Connah’s Quay, described the vivid memory of seeing the face of the pilot as he flew past.

He said: “I saw this aircraft coming towards us and it dropped the torpedo.

“I saw his face – he was so close to me – and that is one of the most vivid memories I have of the war, I thought this is it, this is the end.

“Years later he saw an article in one of the magazines we used to produce and got in touch with Peter Lyons, who was also on the ship. He came over and about 40 of us went down to Torquay to see him.”

He said there were no feelings of anger between them, despite the German pilot’s attempts to kill all on board HMS Nairana.

He said: “It was nice to meet him.

“He said ‘I had a job to do and you had a job to do’, so there were no hard feelings.”

After leaving the Royal Navy, Mr Dudley went on to work at Airbus for a decade, British Steel for 35 years and as a taxi driver for ABA Car in Shotton for more than 15 years.

He lives with his wife Margaret, 69, and the couple have twin boys Kevin and Ian, 49, 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

But even after a long work record, Mr Dudley has carried on working and for the last seven years has worked at McDonald’s and is believed to be the company’s oldest member of staff in Europe.

He works a six-hour shift on a Wednesday and Thursday, greeting customers and making sure their needs are attended to.

The customer care manager, who is called Old McDonald by his wife, said he had no plans to give up work.

He said: “I look forward to the days when I’m working here, and seeing all of the staff members.

“They think the world of me, we are like a family and I am like their father.

“I am going to carry on until I drop.”

He said he felt lucky that he was able to still go to work, after surviving a war in which millions of people were not so lucky.

“I was young at the time so it felt like an adventure, it’s only now you realise how lucky we were to get home”, he said.

“When we got to Russia, the U-boats were waiting for us like a pack of wolves.

“I saw a lot of ships getting sunk and I saw lots of bodies floating in the sea but we couldn’t help them.”

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