A D-Day veteran who flirted with Melania Trump is not usually so amorous and vowed never to remarry after he lost the ‘love of his life’ 25 years ago, his daughter told MailOnline today.
Carole Monk revealed how she urged her father Thomas Cuthbert to behave ahead of the 75th anniversary event in Portsmouth yesterday, where he met the Queen, Prince Charles and Donald Trump.
But she was left stunned after the 93-year-old told the US President: ‘She’s nice, isn’t she?,’ in reference to the First Lady, before adding: ‘If it wasn’t for you, and if only I was 20 years younger.’
Mrs Monk, 65, of Wivenhoe, Essex, said she later told Mr Trump: ‘I can’t take him anywhere!’
She also joked that she pleaded with her father not to breach Royal protocol by touching the Queen – only to admit she thinks he gave Her Majesty a ‘little nudge.’
Meanwhile, friends and neighbours spoke fondly of the great-grandfather, calling him a ‘great old boy’ who enjoys a laugh and a joke and can often be seen ‘chatting to old ladies at the bus stop’.
It came as Mr Cuthbert’s extraordinary wartime exploits were revealed – including how he sailed to Normandy on a ‘floating bomb’ and saw 173 people – including his own family – crushed to death in the 1943 Bethnal Green Tube disaster.
Carole Monk said her father Thomas Cuthbert (on his wedding day to Joyce in 1945) has shunned the advances of other women after the death of his wife Joyce
The war hero, who has told how ‘proud’ he is to have taken part in D-Day was part of a crew working to refuel other ships as the invasion took place
Mr Cuthbert with his daughter Carole during the D-Day celebrations
D Day veteran Thomas Cuthbert, 93, from Elmstead Market, Essex, was charmed by Melania Trump, 49, when they were introduced at a reception in Portsmouth this afternoon. Speaking to the President, Mr Cuthbert gestured to Mrs Trump and said: ‘She’s nice, isn’t she?’
Mr Cuthbert, who was awarded the Legion D’Honneur in 2017 for his role in the D Day landings, was on fine form at the reception and shared a joke with the Queen (pictured)
Speaking to MailOnline Mrs Monk said: ‘He’s not always been a flirt.
‘My mum was the love of his life. They got married when he was 18, in 1945.
‘When she died 25 years ago he always said he would not remarry. There has been some women at the bowls club, but he is just not interested.
‘I said to President Trump ‘I can’t take him anywhere’ after he said what he said to Melania. He gave me a little smile. The President was very respectful to all the veterans.’
She added: ‘I had warned him before hand, that he had to be respectful. He is always respectful, but he can say some rather random things.
‘He always jokes with people. He has always been a bit of character. You’re never sure what he is going to. I did try and make him behave.
‘I said be careful what you say. And don’t touch the Queen – but I think he gave her a little nudge as well.’
Mr Cuthbert was working as a messenger for the ARP in 1943 when he was sent to the scene of the Bethnal Green tube disaster, where more than 170 were killed fleeing a German air raid.
After arriving at the scene, where 173 people – mostly women and children – had been crushed to death in a stampede, he didn’t realise his aunt and cousin were among the victims.
Thomas Cuthbert, left, with his daughter Carole, and wife Joyce in the late 1950s
Mr Cuthbert (centre, with wife Joyce) on their wedding day in 1945. He vowed to never remarry after she died 25 years ago
Mr Cuthbert pictured in 2017 after he was awarded the Legion D’Honneur for his role in the D-Day landings
It was also confirmed later that his soon to be wife Joyce has lost her own mother and her aunt in the disaster.
Mr Cuthbert’s neighbours in Elmstead Market, Essex, described the cheeky war hero as a ‘great old boy’.
The former telephone engineer who worked for BT after leaving the Navy, moved out of London, and settled in Essex with his family 33 years ago.
Locals say he is always joking with neighbours and chatting to ‘old ladies at the bus stop’.
Phil Clark, 61, said played a key part in the landing and shared his war stories.
Thomas Cuthbert in his Royal Navy uniform in 1945
He said: ‘He said when they were going in there was loads of bodies in the water.
‘It’s pretty dangerous, he was on the boat going around refuelling – he was riding around on a massive bomb.’
The retired water inspector laughed when asked about his cheeky banter. He said: ‘He’s a great old boy and a real character.
‘He’s always joking about, life and soul – a right old cockney. He’s slowing down a bit now, but he’s a gentleman.
‘Tom is a good old boy years ago he used to help out anyone. If you see him at the bus stop he’s talking to the old ladies, they know him in Tesco.’
Mr Cuthbert, who was sent off to the Far East with the Royal Navy after the war, has one daughter, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
He was invited to meet the President and the Queen for his role during D-Day, in which he came under a barrage of enemy fire on a ‘floating bomb.’
The Royal Navy veteran, awarded France’s highest honour for his role in the invasion, was part of a crew working to refuel other ships.
Mrs Monk added: ‘He had taken my mum to the cinema that night. He was told he had to go over to Bethnal Green to find out what had happened, and report back.
‘He left and got there, not knowing the terrible tragedy he was going to see.
‘My mum’s mother and her sister were killed in the crush. And my dad’s aunt and cousin died. He didn’t know at the time that four people he knew were involved.
‘It was the first time my mothers mum and her sister had ever gone down to the tube to take shelter.’
A total of 27 men, 84 women and 62 children – the youngest was just five months– died in the disaster, which was triggered when a 300 strong crowd piled into the station believing there was an air raid taking place.
A mother and her daughter are believed to have tripped on the steps, creating a domino effect as other fell on top of her, crushing the victims. The disaster was covered up by the government, who believed if the news got out it could harm the war effort.
The war hero (in his military uniform, left and right, as a schoolboy) who later worked for BT after his military service, was born in Bethnal Green and witnessed the aftermath of the Bethnal Green Tube disaster
Mr Cuthbert said to the President: ‘If it wasn’t for you, and if only I was 20 years younger.’ The comment prompted a chuckle from Trump, who replied: ‘You could handle it, there’s no question about it’. Pictured, the Trumps meeting Mr Cuthbert yesterday
Mr Cuthbert, right, made a remark about the First Lady to the President while she was standing next to him. The men spoke at a reception following the commemorations yesterday
Just a year later he had joined the Royal Navy, and was stationed on a landing barge full of fuel anchored of the coast of Normandy.
The war hero, who has told how ‘proud’ he is to have taken part in the operation that turned the tide of the Second World War, was part of a crew working to refuel other ships.
Speaking to his local paper in 2017 after he was awarded the Legion D’Honneur for his role in the landings. he said he had sailed to France from Poole, Dorset.
He said: ‘We were anchored offshore on Utah and Omaha beaches then Gold, Juno and Sword beaches.
‘Our mission was to refuel other vessels. We were often under heavy fire and it was a hazardous mission as we resembled a floating bomb.
‘I went ashore when the Americans captured the Omaha beachhead.’
Women and children taking shelter in Bethnal Green Tube station which was used as an air raid shelter. In 1943, more than 170 people, mostly women and children, were crushed to death here in a stampede. Mr Cuthbert lost two members of his family in the tragedy
A plaque at Bethnal Green tube station in east London in memory of the 173 men, women and children who died in the disaster
The entrance to the air raid shelter at Bethnal Green Tube Station in 1943, where 178 people were killed on the stairs when panic set in during an air raid. Mr Cuthbert was called to the station by the ARP to report on what had happened
He was later anchored at Cherbourg Harbour after it was recaptured by the allies later in June 1944.
How 173 people died in the Bethnal Green Tube Station disaster – the UK’s largest single loss of civilian life during World War II
A total of 27 men, 84 women and 62 children – the youngest just five months old, died in the Bethnal Green Tube disaster on March 3, 1943.
They were crushed and choked to death when a 300 strong crowd piled down wet, dimly lit steps during what they thought was an air raid in 1943.
The tube station had room for 5,000 people, and was a make shift hospital and a canteen.
Crowds started heading underground amid rumours of a bombing, and then wailing air raid sirens and a loud bang sparked panic, and there was a rush down the stairs.
It is believed that a mother, carrying her daughter, tripped and fell down the steps, and others then fell on top of her in a deadly domino effect.
Reports afterwards said that within 15 seconds, 173 people were dead. Up to 90 injured were also taken to the hospital for treatment.
The tragedy was covered up by the government, who thought if news got out that so many had died in the tragedy, it would harm the war effort.
It was two years before the public were allowed to know the truth.
A small plaque was erected above the entrance in memory of those that died. In 2017 a much larger ‘Stairway To Heaven’ memorial was installed.
He added to the Halstead Gazette: ‘I witnessed, amongst many other things, a landing barge oil from my flotilla blown up by a mine and another caught alight when fumes ignited.
‘Both were in the outer harbour at Cherbourg.
‘I was, and still am, proud to be a part of the D-Day landings and the process to liberate France.’
The veteran’s wartime heroics have been revealed after he was introduced to Donald Trump’s wife, telling the US president: ‘She’s nice isn’t she?
‘If it wasn’t for you, and if only I was 20 years younger.’
The comment prompted a chuckle from the President, 72, who replied: ‘You could handle it, there’s no question about it,’ while shaking Mr Cuthbert’s hand.
Mr Cuthbert said after his meeting the President and First Lady he said Mr Trump ‘came across very well.’
He added: ‘He surprised me, when you see someone on the TV but he seemed different, he seemed one of the boys.
‘His wife was very pleasant as well.’
The President told the veteran it was an ‘honour’ to meet him, adding: ‘Thank you very much.’
Mr Cuthbert was later seen sharing a joke with the Queen and chatting to Prince Charles about his time in the Navy.
A brief conversation with the Queen ended with the monarch bursting into laughter.
Mr Cuthbert told Her Majesty that he had served in the Navy and was stationed on a landing barge oiler.
After Mr Cuthbert continued his explanation, the Queen quipped: ‘I thought you were going to tell me you had a bomb!, prompting the veteran and those around them to chuckle.
Meanwhile Prince Charles, 70, spoke to the veteran about the hardship of suffering from seasickness during the war.
Referring to a segment of the commemorations that highlighted the conditions the men had to endure on the vessels heading to Normandy, the prince told Mr Cuthbert: ‘As they were saying the smell of the fuel and people being sick must have been terrible.
‘I remember being in the navy and always being sick, and there was always someone who was never sick and would always appear with a mug of steaming soup.’