Second World War veteran makes virtual return to scene of battle
A Second World War veteran has revisited the French town he helped liberate by using virtual reality.
Frank Mouque, 91, was a corporal in the 263 Field Company of the British Royal Engineers that liberated the town of Armentieres from Nazi occupation.
Now a Chelsea Pensioner at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, Mr Mouque was shown a virtual reality experience ahead of Remembrance Sunday that enabled him to see and hear from residents of the town without leaving his home, and to receive an official medal from the town's mayor.
The 360-degree film was created by Manchester-based start-up Twine and using Samsung's Gear VR headset.
"It's ingenious. It's like you're really there, standing in front of them," Mr Mouque said of the experience.
"On behalf of all the people who were (serving) with me, thank you."
During the film, Mr Mouque also encountered other residents of the town - who thanked him for his part in the liberation - and saw local school children sing a nursery rhyme.
The video, along with a second showing the veteran's reaction to the experience, has been posted to YouTube.
Twine chief executive Stuart Logan said of the project: "Virtual reality is a technology with almost limitless potential, but we wanted to look beyond thrills and entertainment and use it to achieve something truly profound.
"My late grandfather took part in the liberation of Europe, so I was drawn to the idea of helping a member of this extraordinary generation see the town today that he helped free so many decades earlier.
"It was wonderful to let Frank experience the gratitude of the people of Armentieres and see first-hand the enduring legacy of both his service and the sacrifices of so many friends."
The VR video also includes 360-degree functionality so viewers on YouTube are also able to look around as they watch.
Colonel Simon Bate OBE, adjutant of the Royal Hospital Chelsea said: "This is a tremendously important time of year.
"Remembrance is a chance for us all to remember how lucky we are to be here today and what we owe to our veterans.
"For Frank, to be thanked by the people of Armentieres for his contribution during the war, and to receive this medal from the mayor, means a tremendous amount."