Old Soldier Alan Katz has finally been recognised, 70 years after serving in the Army during the Korean War.

The 92-year-old veteran from Stanmore, now living in Jewish Care’s Ruben’s House care home in Gant’s Hill, was invited to Buckingham Palace by pure chance to meet the Princess Royal.

Alan never spoke about his service to his family in the 70 years since the conflict. Stories from his past only came to light when his children discovered old photographs and documents in a box.

“Everything was all just lying in a tin,” his son Phil explained. “There were medals and photographs from his time in Korea but Dad never spoke about it. He kept quiet about his Army life.”

A total of 1,100 British servicemen were killed in the Korean War, which began in June 1950 and ended in July 1953.

Alan, who was born in 1932 and grew up in Whitechapel, served as the battalion barber for the Gloucestershire Regiment in the conflict from 1950 to 1952.

Ilford Recorder: Alan was the Gloucestershire Regiment's battalion barber in the Korean WarAlan was the Gloucestershire Regiment's battalion barber in the Korean War (Image: Katz family)

The invitation to The Palace to meet Princess Anne for the 70th anniversary of the end of the war only came about because his neighbour in Stanmore is the ex-British ambassador to South Korea and Chairman of the British Korean Society.

“It was a special moment for Dad meeting Princess Anne,” Phil recalled. “It was a monumental way for him to be acknowledged finally for putting his life on the line all those years ago.”

Alan also met other veterans in his battalion at the British Legion reception marking the 70th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the Korean War.

Ilford Recorder: Alan Katz and his son PhilAlan Katz and his son Phil (Image: Katz family)

The reception for 200 veterans was hosted by Princess Anne, with a message from the King telling them: “Your selfless courage and steadfast pursuit of peace are guiding principles which have not been forgotten and continue to inspire generations to come. Your service and sacrifice will echo through the ages.”

Alan went on to train as a hairdresser when he was demobbed from the Army in 1952 and became apprentice to Adoph Cohen, who also taught Vidal Sassoon.

Ilford Recorder: Alan Katz at his hairdresser's shopAlan Katz at his hairdresser's shop (Image: Katz family)

He stayed in North London to develop his career as a leading hairdresser and eventually ran his own salon until he retired. Alan moved from Stanmore to Ruben’s House care home in Gant’s Hill last year.