It is February 1944 and Bill Davies is tucking into a turkey dinner, complete with cranberry sauce, potatoes and the staple of every good roast – stuffing.

His lips curl into a cheeky grin as he turns to the man on his left, his outstretched hand gripping a Christmas cracker, and they squeal in unison when the little toy falls out.

From this heart-warming scene, it is hard to imagine that just two months before on Christmas Day, the future looked bleak for the Coldstream Guards.

The First Battalion were tucking into their pigs-in-blankets in Tirlemont, Belgium, when their Piquet Officer came charged through the door with a stern look on his face.

“Boys, get ready”, came the voice. “You will be drafted at 3.30am.”

The men stopped chewing and the room fell deadly still. “But where are we going?”

Instead of spending the day after Christmas in a food-induced coma, they were pushing the Germans back through Ardennes.

Former choirboy Mr Davies, who is now 93 and lives in Stainer Close with his wife, Reene, was celebrating his 20th birthday on the day the war broke out in 1939.

The day before, he had just been crowned a table tennis champion in his hometown of West Bromwich and was still revelling in the excitement when the news broke.

A day later he tried to join the Royal Artillery – but to his surprise, he was told there were no vacancies. To this day, that has still left him with a sense of disbelief.

“Is that not remarkable?” He says. “A war had broken out – but there were no vacancies! What insanity.”

Instead, he joined the 1st Battalion of the Coldstream Guards, where the six-month training was so rigorous many did not survive past the first five days.

He said: “It was tough. From 5pm to 6pm five days a week we what we called a shining parade, where we had to show the sergeants our kit to make sure it was clean enough.

“There was a lot of emphasis on cleanliness. If you did not pass, you were not allowed out of the barracks on Saturday and Sunday.

“It was not fun, but to my way of thinking it made a man out of you. If you can survive that, you can survive anything.”

After training, the squad spent the next four years touring Suffolk, Leeds, Yeovil and Elstree.

It was during a stint in Elstree that Mr Davies met and married his first wife, Kathleen in 1943, where he would eventually live after the war.

He has fond memories of a night spent in Coventry – when the tired soldier refused to get out of bed when an air raid sounded.

“Everyone was trying to hurry me out so we could get to the shelter, but to be honest I wanted to stay in bed, so I refused to move. I just thought, if your time is up it is up, you know?”

But then his giggle turns sombre as he recalls the aftermath of the bomb that destroyed the famous cathedral. He shudders. “I don’t like to think of that."

For him, the saddest part of the war was when he lost his friend, Sergeant Coulthard, who was killed in 1944 in Holland.

The memory is hazy, but all he can recall is the tank being hit and the moment he realised he lost his friend.

“His tank got hit with an ‘88. It upset me a great deal but luckily that was the only casualty in our troop.”

Now a granddad-of-one, he enjoys reminiscing about the time the courageous agent Ian Liddell risked his life to disconnect German a bomb at the River Ems Bridge in 1943.

The squad then captured the Germans, who were watching from the sidelines, killing them and leaving their bodies on the bridge.

“He was so courageous. My favourite memory was watching him get a Victoria Cross for his efforts – I was in pure awe.”

After the war ended in 1944, Mr Davies moved to Germany and joined the military police – the “best six months” he spent as a sergeant.

When he was demobbed and allowed back home to Elstree, he said everything had changed.

“The air was different. The war changed me. You see things you never thought you would see but you come out a stronger person at the end of it.”

He spent the next few years working various jobs in Elstree – and even continued to play table tennis, before marrying his second wife, Reene, in 1991.

It was in 1984 when the former president of the Royal British Legion, in Shenley Road, Borehamwood, asked him to be the standard bearer.

He has also been a parade marshall for 28 years, but feels that now is the time to pass the title to someone else.

Standing tall and proud, he led the parade for the last time during the Remembrance Day parade in Shenley Road this Sunday, November 11.

“Remembrance Sunday means so much to me. Rene and I used to go round to schools in Borehamwood to teach them about what it involves.

“So many people turned out to the parade this year. It was by far the best parade in Borehamwood I have ever seen.”