Chelsea Pensioner Dougie Hassall Portrait Commission

Dougie Hassall is a very extraordinary Chelsea Pensioner, a World War Two Veteran reaching the grand old age of 100. The Royal Hospital in London commissioned me to capture his portrait. It was a very humbling experience to shake the hand of a remarkable 100 year old man. I asked Dougie his secret to old age, his response, “ be kind to one another and live each day to the full”. Indeed words to live by.

The oldest sitter of my career Douggie became a prisoner of war. Taken by the Japanese for three-and-a-half years, being made to work on 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.”