A PENSNETT war veteran is getting set to return to the Netherlands, where he served during World War II, in a poignant lottery funded trip.

Albert Evans aged 86, has been awarded a £875 grant from the Big Lottery Fund, to return to Arnhem and Nijmegen later this month, for a five-day trip to pay respects to some of his best friends who he lost during Operation Market Garden.

Mr Evans was 20 when he joined the 1st Battalion of the Royal Hampshires as a private and was part of the attack towards Eindhoven in an effort to relieve the British and Polish paratroopers dropped by parachutes and gliders at Arnhem.

The veteran said: “We were tasked with relieving the allied troops who’d been dropped at Arnhem, but unfortunately we never made it that far as we were met with resistance from the Germans and came under attack from very heavy shelling for four days and nights.”

Mr Evans is set to return to Arnhem with his daughter and son-in-law, Avril and John Williams, from Dudley, as part of Heroes Return – a £17m lottery scheme where veterans are given funding to return on commemorative trips back to places across the world where they saw action.

He said: “It has always been my wish to go back and visit the graves of my friends who I lost and I've always wanted to show my daughter where I was. She has heard my stories, but I wanted to show her.”

The grandfather-of-two, who has been widowed for 22 years, is also hoping to revisit the grave of one close friend, Ernest Cogan, who is buried in the village of Oosterbeek.

Mr Evans, who has been a member of the Gentlemen Songsters Male Voice Choir for 18 years, last visited the grave of his friend during a trip to Netherlands with the choir over two years ago.

He said: “I asked the party leader if we could go and visit this particular war cemetery, because I wanted to try and find a grave of my friend.

“When we got there I went to the office register and I turned to the ‘C’ index page and his was the first name on the list. It was obviously fate.”

To apply to the initiative, which is open until January, call the helpline on 0845 00 00 121 or visit biglotteryfund.org.uk for more information.