Chelsea Pensioner Dougie Hassall Portrait Commission

Chelsea Pensioner Dougie Hassall is a very extraordinary pensioner. Reaching the grand old age of 100. The Royal Hospital in London Commissioned me to capture his portrait. It was a very humbling and remarkable experience for me to shake the hands of a 100 year old man. Dougie’s secret to old age, be kind to one another and live each day to the full.

 

Hassall the oldest sitter of my career is a World War Two Veteran, captured by the Japanese Army in 1941, and was a Prisoner of War for three-and-a-half years working at the docks in Saigon.

He remembers VJ Day vividly as the American Forces dropped leaflets over their camps to let them know the war had ended. He said: “We had an idea that it might be over about a week before; the Japanese were preparing to shoot us. We were starting to dig our own graves.

 

“They dropped the second bomb and the Japanese Commander, wisely, had a change of heart. I was quite fortunate as a Japanese Prisoner of War, I was with my friends. We were all in there together which made it easier.

 

“I have made my peace with the Japanese, I believe in forgiving and forgetting.”

 (Rory Lewis)

 (Rory Lewis)