Daughter pays tribute to her dad - a much-loved war hero

Kenneth Constable pictured with the medals he received at the end of the Second World War
Kenneth Constable pictured with the medals he received at the end of the Second World War

A war hero who lied about his age so that he could fight the Nazis died after falling off a chair and injuring his hip, an inquest has heard.

Kenneth Constable volunteered in Monte Cassino, one of the Second World War’s bloodiest battles, in 1944, but was only 16 years of age when he signed up in 1940.

Grandfather Mr Constable, from Wheelwrights, Weston Turville, who told his incredible story to The Bucks Herald in May last year, died in January aged 91, after falling off a chair and injuring his hip while at his daughter’s home a few weeks earlier, a coroner heard.

He was taken to Stoke Mandeville Hospital and had an operation the following day but required continuing treatment, including antibiotics and oxygen, for pneumonia he had contracted.

The war veteran appeared to be on the road to recovery but after talking to his family and doctor, Mr Constable announced on Christmas Day that he did not wish to receive further treatment.

He died in the Florence Nightingale Hospice, Aylesbury on January 3.

Speaking outside the inquest, his daughter Cheryl Cleal described her father as a “one-off” character who was much loved by all his family.

Asked about how he managed to lie about his age to fight the Nazis, Mrs Cleal said: “He said he was with the travelling circus so they couldn’t track down his family.

“I think he wanted to escape.

“I think it was just a question of getting away from home.”

Multi-lingual Mr Constable, who was born in India, joined the Royal Sussex Regiment of the Fourth Indian Division of the Eighth Army and saw action in Egypt and Italy, among other places.

Mrs Cleal said after the war he spent some time doing an arts course and living a “high old life” in Florence, Italy, before returning to England to launch a successful business career as a surveyor in the building trade.

Mr Constable married and divorced three times and had three children and four grandchildren.

Buckinghamshire coroner Richard Hulett recorded a narrative verdict at the inquest in Beaconsfield.