War hero couldn’t face losing independence

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A BRAVE war hero ended his own life because he could not face having his leg amputated as he felt it would rid him of his independence.

Samuel Levy - known locally as Gerald - took part in the Battle of Arnhem during the Second World War where, as a 17-year-old paratrooper, he fought to hold a key bridge from the Nazis.

The assault on the crossing did not go completely according to plan, with Allied regiments meeting stiff resistance from the SS.

Only a small force made the bridge and with the main body of the forces stopped at the outskirts of the city, the squadron was overwhelmed after nine days of fierce fighting the airborne forces were withdrawn.

Mr Levy took part in the operation which later became famous due in large parts to the hit film A Bridge Too Far, which boasted a star-studded Hollywood line-up.

The former para died at his Polegate home back on April 27 and an inquest into his death last week heard his body was found in his armchair, with empty paracetamol packets nearby.A post-mortem revealed the 84-year-old had 122 milligrams of paracetamol per litre of blood in his system, which an expert from the DGH confirmed would have been enough to kill him.

Mr Levy’s step-daughter confirmed the death had not come as a surprise to the family because the pensioner was having to come to terms with the fact a gangrenous infection in his foot had spread and would most likely lead to his leg being amputated.

For a man as independent and active as Mr Levy, she said, this would have been almost impossible to consider.

Sue Dawson told the inquest, “Independence was very important to him. He had had a taste of (life in a) residential home and realised it was not for him.

“To not be able to get out and have lunch with his friends – that would have not been for him.

“I was not at all surprised (by the suicide). I knew what he was going to do.

“This was absolutely calculated. It would not be right to suppose this was someone who suffered from depression.”

Mr Levy was described by his GP as “a brave man who never complained about his degenerating health” while his step daughter revealed her dad flourished when helping others – which he did through volunteer work with Neighbourhood Watch, Polegate Residents’ Association and a long-running role with the trade union UNISON.

She said, “He liked a joke. He was gregarious and liked to be involved with the community. Everyone who came to the funeral said they would always remember him as being someone who joked and was genuinely of good nature.”

Recording a verdict of suicide, deputy coroner Joanna Pratt said, “He could not face having his foot amputated and living in a rest home.

“These were not the action of a depressed man but they were planned as to avoid what he would have considered a non-life.”