A man who lost all his documents in the war and thought he was 98 is celebrating – after discovering he’s 100 this year.
John Franklin fled to England from Poland after it was invaded by the Russians and Germans.
His home town of Sopockinie was flattened by bombs and all his documentation were lost forever.
He had been unaware of his exact birth date since he was a boy and his official papers said he was born on 7th November 1921.
John – real name Mieczyslaw Frackiewicz – accepted the date but in the back of his mind always knew it was wrong.
He arrived in England in 1940 and served in the RAF Polish Squadron 304 across numerous bases.
John was about to celebrate his 98th birthday this year until new records were found – and showed his birthday to be November 3rd, 1919.
He will now celebrate his centenary on November 3 – having finally resolved the long running saga over his true birth date.
He’s also hoping for a letter from the Queen.
Mr Franklin said: “Sopockinie was flattened during the war and so all my documentation and memories were lost amongst everything else.
”Even my school records – lost.
“My daughter and I contacted the RAF headquarters and we managed to contact the Polish Embassy in London.
“They concluded that I was born on the 3rd of November 1919, the year my father was killed.
“When I left the RAF they discharged me with a document which had the wrong birth date on it, which is how I ended up with the date 7th November 1921.
“I always knew the date was wrong but I didn’t know when my actual birthday was.”
His daughter Linda Davies said: “All his Polish army and RAF documents clearly state his birth date is November 3rd, 1919.
”But in 1947 a document ‘in lieu of birth certificate’ was sent from Elk in Poland to RAF East Wretham, which gave his birth date as 7th November 1921.
”It then appeared on his discharge and resettlement documents. He adopted this date in order to move on with his life.”
Mr Franklin added: ”Stalin decided to release us because the German’s were bombing Moscow and he wanted us to train and fight wherever it was necessary.
“And so I decided to take a trip to England.
“I never expected to get out of Russia. The hunger was so bad I never thought it was possible to experience something like it.”
Mr Franklin eventually settled down in Bury St Edmunds, Cambridgeshire, and has lived there ever since.
He married the love of his life, Pamela Brewster in October 1949, before opening his own antique restoration business.
He said: “I opened up my own restoration business restoring old and antique things which I enjoyed very much.”
Mr Franklin added: ”My step-sister and my family all went separate ways and I still don’t know where anyone is.
“I never saw them again. That’s how it is, war. You lose everything that is dear to you.
It doesn’t give a happy life to anybody.”
When asked if he thinks he might receive a letter from the Queen to celebrate his 100th birthday, he wasn’t sure he would get one.
He said: “I don’t think I will get one but if I do it will be the biggest and most enjoyable recognition if I did it get it.
“I love my country and I did whatever I could to serve it, and I’m very proud of that.”
Although he’ll soon be celebrating a three-figure birthday, Mr Franklin think’s he not doing too bad for someone who’s almost 100.
He said: “I’ve still got a drivers license – I’m so lucky to have such good health.”