Surviving heroes have opened up about their wartime experiences on the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War.

Two elderly veterans from Gloucestershire have spoken about how lucky they were to survive the extraordinary conflict and live such long, healthy and happy lives.

Ken Hunting, 98, and Stan Baldry MBE, 94, both residents of the Richmond retirement village in Painswick, served in the Army as young men of war.

For Ken, this month is particularly poignant as it marks 80 years since he became a soldier and joined the The Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

Having only just finished at his boarding school in the June, Mr Hunting immediately enlisted to fight for his King and Country.

He was just 18 and his life was to change irrevocably as he was deployed to fight in North Africa and to become a battle-hardy soldier.

Ken fought in – and survived – the fierce Battle of Tunisia in 1942 to 1943.

"Along with essential support from the Allies, we managed to push forward after what was a horrific battle," Ken says.

"This was a real turning point in the North African Campaign as it was the first time in a long, drawn-out battle that we saw the enemy retreat and we took 300,000 German prisoners as a result.”

Thereafter Ken stayed in Africa and was involved in the Mau Mau Uprisings of 1952.

“I feel truly blessed to have served and survived some of the most dangerous conflicts as there were so many who weren’t as lucky," he adds.

Ken's neighbour at the Richmond Village, former Slimbridge resident Stan Baldry MBE, can more than empathise with his elder comrade having also served in the Army during the conflict.

Stan was born and raised in Darjeeling in India until, like Ken, he was also sent to be educated at a British boarding school.

He joined up the age of 18 and, upon being commissioned as a junior officer, became a lieutenant in charge of a platoon of up to 30 men.

Posted to Asia, Stan's responsibility as an engineer was to navigate the best routes for troops and equipment to be transported across the battlegrounds.

“I loved being in the Army, it’s all I’d wanted to do since the age of 10," Stan says.

"There is no doubt that it was a hard life. At times we didn’t have any tents so we slept under the stars, with the snakes and mosquitos being a real threat.”

Stan took part in the liberation of Burma which was led by Field Marshal Bill Slim and saw the reclaiming of the country from the occupying Imperial Japanese Army.

Supported by Indian soldiers from his old homeland, Stan led his men in the construction of roads as the Allies fought their way from India to the Burmese capital of Rangoon.

Recalling one of his proudest moments, Stan says: “As we landed on the beaches of Burma, we were approached by 4,000 Japanese troops and I singlehandedly took the surrender of the Japanese general.

Stan adds with a chuckle, "I must admit that I was actually naked at the time. It was awfully hot in Burma, and I’d taken my clothes off when getting in the water to fix the jeep.”

On his return home in 1947, Stan was awarded the MBE and rose to the ranks of a Brigadier.

He married his wife June and they settled in Slimbridge.

One aspect of their military service Ken and Stan are united on is the honour of fighting for the freedom and democracy that we are blessed with today.

“It was an honour to serve in The Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment. It was like being part of a special family," Ken says.

"It all could have been so different."