Shoreditch cabbie embarks on historical European roadtrip after hearing from charity’s veterans
- Credit: Archant
A Shoreditch cab driver embarked on an international road trip to learn more about World War Two.
Despite the coronavirus crisis, Sebastian Philp visited numerous sites of historical interest on his European journey in July and August, which saw him cycle from Calais to the French Alps, drive a camper van through Italy and catch a night ferry from Naples to Sicily.
As a volunteer for Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, which funds and facilitates international trips for war veterans, Sebastian wanted to experience the places he had heard about from the charity’s users.
READ MORE: ‘Force of nature’ who saved Shoreditch hospital from closure dies aged 96He also wanted to find out more about his grandfather, Henry Philp, a footballer who fought in the Italian campaign.
“I knew very little about my grandfather’s part in the war, as he never really talked about it other than to tell us he was a transporter and that he had a rough time and had seen a young kid pick up a grenade and get blown apart in front of him,” said Sebastian.
“I do remember vividly that when I was young and on holiday in the French Alps, that my grandfather told me that he had come down the alps on a donkey during the war, so the French Alps had to play their part in the journey.”
You may also want to watch:
Just two of Sebastian’s destinations were Monte Cassino, where a battle resulted in 55,000 allied deaths, and Anzio, which saw conflict as part of the Italian Campaign.
Sebastian added: “One veteran I have met through the Taxi Charity is John King. John was on HMS Janus, a J-class destroyer.”
- 1 Campaign to keep Hackney Wick 'alive' with street art
- 2 Jailed: Newham men who raped and robbed women in Hackney home
- 3 Hackney people encouraged to shop local for April 12 reopening
- 4 Hackney's great beer gardens reopening on April 12
- 5 Garden of Lament, Covid, Ramadan, homing cats and Islamophobia
- 6 'I can't wait to buy useless items' when shops reopen after Covid lockdown
- 7 Community group crowdfunds to turn old Lea valley water depot into wild space
- 8 Hoxton restaurant showcases menus by New City College student chefs
- 9 Hackney mum left with 'deep scars' after sexual assault at school
- 10 Police hunt Ilford man after shooting in Hackney
On 23 January 1944, when Janus was torpedoed and sank off the Anzio beachhead in western Italy, some 200 people died and only 62 survived.
Sebastian also learned about Operation Huskey, a campaign in which the allies took the island of Sicily from Italy and Germany.
“The battle in Sicily was one of the first operations involving the paras and I am fortunate to know 100-year-old World War Two veteran Raymond Whitwell, who was part of this operation,” Sebastian said.
Sebastian later added: “My tour was steeped in history and I loved every minute.
“My next will be to Crete to learn more about the part this Greek island played in World War Two.”