'I wasn't a hero, just one of a million'
NEXT week we will all pause to remember the fallen, but one old soldier will have more reason than most to bow his head in silent prayer.
Fred Scourfield is one of a dwindling band of surviving members of one of the most famous battles of the Second World War.
The Battle of El Alamein, fought in the deserts of North Africa, is seen as one of the decisive victories of the global conflict.
Now aged 91 and living in Margam, his memories of those dark days have never left him. This Remembrance Sunday will see the former Desert Rat, who served with the Welsh Engineers in North Africa before pushing on to Italy, then returning home only to take part in D Day plus 2 and finally ending the war in Berlin, attend a ceremony at Taibach's war memorial.
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Mr Scourfield said: "I don't see myself as a hero at all. I was just one of a million."
And although he saw plenty of action, including getting injured when a shell landed next to the vehicle he was travelling through the desert in, he says that he was never scared.
"I suppose we all took it for granted, you never really thought about being scared," he said.
The modest hero volunteered to help clear a path through a mines field on the outskirts of the Egyptian town on the eve of the battle.
He said: "There were hundreds of guns lined up from the coast right inland. We cleared a path in front by driving a lorry through the minefield. There were two of us, I had to walk behind the lorry in case something happened to the other chap. "Eventually he came to a halt and got out before a tank pushed the lorry out of the way. We lay in front of the guns as they began their barrage."
Turning his thoughts back to Remembrance Sunday he says: "I celebrated my 21st birthday out in the desert. I remember one lad, from London, saying, 'Happy birthday Taffy, come with me, we'll borrow a lorry and go and celebrate.'
"We drove to a little village on the coast and went in this grimy cafe and he ordered two cooked chickens.
"A week later he was killed.
"I will be thinking of him mainly on the Sunday."
The old soldier, who has a certificate of merit signed by Montgomery himself for his war conduct, actually met the great general while laying mines on the frontline in North Africa.
He said: "We were taking a breather and keeping our heads down in a trench when Monty pulled up in a staff car, and this was the measure of the man, he was standing up in the staff car in sight of the front line.
"He said 'hello, men' and went down the line. When he came to me he asked if we were being treated right and I said that our rations and cigarettes weren't getting through.
"He said he couldn't do anything about the rations but then he turned to his driver and asked him to hand me a pack of 500 John Players."
The General was to do another favour of sorts for Mr Scourfield towards the end of the war.
He said: "Because we had been with him at El Alamein, Monty said that he wanted our regiment to be one of the first ones into Berlin.
"When we got there the place was full of Russians painting everything red."