Leeds war veteran Simon Brown says Armistice centenary helped him 'say goodbye' to his father

A Leeds war veteran left almost blind by sniper fire in Iraq has described how the centenary of the Armistice has helped him say goodbye to his father who was also a soldier.

Simon Brown (left) at the launch of the Leeds Poppy Appeal at The Light.

Simon Brown, from Morley, was shot in the face by a sniper during a rescue mission to save six stranded soldiers, and the bullet entered his left cheek and exited the other side.

When he awoke 17 days later in hospital, he had lost all sight in his left eye and, following several operations was left with about 20 per cent vision in his right eye.

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The 39-year-old former Woodkirk Academy pupil, served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in a career as a mechanic that included tours in Germany, Kosovo, Poland, Canada and Iraq.

Simon Brown pictured at his home in Morley.

His great-grandfather Joseph Brown served in Gallipoli at the start of the First World War before fighting in the Second Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Passchendaele.

His grandfather Sydney Brown joined the Army as a staff-driver at the beginning of the Second World War in the Middle East, helping deliver fuel to the front line.

But the centenary on Sunday was particularly poignant for Simon because it allowed him to pay tribute to his father Mike Brown who served in the RAF between 1968 and 1978 and passed away earlier this year.

READ: Blind Leeds war veteran to march at national Remembrance Sunday serviceSunday's ceremony was the 11th time Simon has marched in the Veteran's Day Parade.

He said: "It's been incredible. It's the biggest crowd I have ever known, the support has been amazing. I've had an incredible time."

He continued: "The centenary was quite a proud moment. I had my grandfather and my great-grandfather's medals, and I lost my dad this year and he was a veteran so it was also a goodbye for him."

Simon and his father last marched side-by-side in the parade in 2009.

Today he marched with Blind Veterans UK, a charity he has worked with since his injury.

"I was representing the family today so it was quite special," he said.

"What was interesting was as we were leaving up through the Horse Guards Parade we could see the second parade (of 10,000 members of the public) and that was quite incredible seeing all those people lined up and feeling the excitement in the air from them to be able to march as well.

"It's been quite an amazing day and it's difficult to put into words. There was the added emotion because of the loss of my dad.

"I was grateful to Blind Veterans UK for the opportunity, everything has been really good."

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post earlier Mr Brown praised the support he received from Blind Veterans UK after losing his sight.

He added: “They built up my confidence, and gave me support with the pragmatic things I needed moving forwards. I learned how to use email again, I learned how to cook meals by myself; things most people take for granted.”