A ‘local legend’ and Second World War veteran has celebrated his 104th birthday with a surprise party with staff and customers at his local supermarket.

Customers and colleagues at Farnworth ASDA sang to Arthur, a regular customer at the store.  

And Happy Birthday was sung on the store tanoy and he was given a birthday cake and balloons by staff.  

The Bolton News: Image of Arthur Image of Arthur (Image: ASDA)

Arthur, who was born on April 2 1919, was called up into the Army aged 20 in May 1939 under the National Service Act.

After first serving as an artillery gunner in Norway 220 miles inside the Arctic Circle and "fighting for his life" he was posted to the Western Desert, seeing action in Malta and Syria among other places.

After the Battle of El Alamein in Egypt in 1942 he volunteered for a new Special Forces team where he became a sergeant.

When celebrating his 100th birthday, he told ASDA staff about his past, he said: "It was tough training and tougher operations.

The Bolton News: Arthur (middle) with his son Paul (left) and Store manager Jennie (right) at the Farnworth store Arthur (middle) with his son Paul (left) and Store manager Jennie (right) at the Farnworth store (Image: ASDA)

"We were taught how to use explosives and how to dive out of an aeroplane and God knows what.

"All we would get was a notice to say we would be going in by parachute during the night on one of the islands, like Crete, and we may set fire to two dozen aircraft, something like that, and then we would make our way to the coast, flash a light and we would be taken out by submarine.

"We were sworn to secrecy. If I wanted anything I only had to go into the stores and say 'have you got so-and-so,' show them my number and I got what I wanted.

"The battle went on from El Alamein along the coast and we would go scouting in advance of the Army. We went into Sicily and into Italy. We wandered all over the islands. I never let anybody know what I did. My parents didn't even know until VE Day.

The Bolton News: Arthur celebrating his 100th birthday with ASDA staff in 2019 Arthur celebrating his 100th birthday with ASDA staff in 2019 (Image: ASDA)

"I will never forget the team I had. They saved my life so many times."

Arthur has been going to the Farnworth store since it was built in December 1979 and he comes in on the same day each week.

Store manager Jennie Court said: "Arthur is still as bright as a button.  

“He’s such a lovely man, a local legend and everyone knows him.  

We bought him a birthday cake, and balloons and sang Happy Birthday on the Tannoy – and customers and colleagues joined in.  

“We did a 'three cheers' at the end too and he loved it."  

“Many happy returns Arthur!” 

In April 2020, during lockdown, residents who lived near Arthur in Farnworth celebrated his 101st birthday by gathering on the street near his home. 

Neighbours turned out to sing happy birthday from across the garden gate, bringing cake and balloons to the 'local hero'. 

At the time, Mark Cowling, a vicar at the local parish church and a close friend, said although Arthur is a 'local hero' he is 'very humble'.  

The Bolton News: Arthur, at 101-years-old, received a cake on his doorstepArthur, at 101-years-old, received a cake on his doorstep (Image: Archive)

He said: “Arthur’s a very special man in our community.

“He doesn’t like a fuss being made and even joked about getting the hose pipe out to spray us with water.

“I was just walking by his house one day and saw one of his neighbours in the garden.

“We had a conversation about Arthur’s birthday and we agreed to gather outside his house and wish him happy birthday.

“We brought some balloons, cake and a card and decorated his fence. We rang him and he came out to the door. He was smiling and chatting, I think he really appreciated it.

“We gave him a round of applause and sang him happy birthday. We congratulated him on reaching a fantastic age.

The Bolton News: Everyone gathered round to sing him happy birthday in April 2020Everyone gathered round to sing him happy birthday in April 2020 (Image: Archive)

“He’s a very active person in the community and does a lot with the school. He’s also very positive and friendly.

“He has been in that house for many years so he has become part of the family for a lot of people.”

Read more: Neighbours create a 101 birthday to remember during lockdown

After sharing the news of Arthur's 104th birthday on Facebook, within two hours, nearly 700 people had commented to wish him well and commend the staff at the Bolton store. 

One commenter said: "To the customers and colleagues of Farnworth store Asda, a lovely thing to do for the lovely gentleman.

Read more: Bolton: Asda's longest-serving colleague retires

"Happy 104th Birthday young man wishing you many more and keep going to Asda every week."

Another added: "Gosh ..104 years young Sir ..many many Happy Birthday Returns.

Read more: Asda Horwich worker celebrated for kindness and 'top banter'

"You will have many stories to tell through the years of your life at each stage simply amazing.

Read more: "Their eyes lit up": Care home residents surprised with trip through home towns

"Well done to your local branch staff, it’s good to take care of the elderly as they sure deserve it."

If you have a story, please email me at Harriet.Heywood@newsquest.co.uk or tweet @Heywoodharriet_