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Toby Jones discovers his grandfather was shot in the face during World War II

Looking back: Toby Jones immersed himself in the extraordinary love story of his grandparents who died after they were separated following a global conflict during the Second World War

Toby Jones immersed himself in the extraordinary love story of his late grandparents after they were separated following a global conflict during World War II.

The actor, whose film credits include Dad’s Army and Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy, had a unique opportunity to posthumously research the impact it has had on their lives for the show My Grandparents’ War. Channel 4.

And Jones, 56, admits his involvement in the project has deepened his regret for not interviewing grandparents Reggie and Doreen Heselwood about their experiences while alive, despite the plot of a curious war scar on the his grandfather’s face.

Looking back: Toby Jones immersed himself in the extraordinary love story of his grandparents who died after they were separated following a global conflict during the Second World War

Looking back: Toby Jones immersed himself in the extraordinary love story of his grandparents who died after they were separated following a global conflict during the Second World War

The actor has since discovered that Reggie was caught by a bullet while serving in the British Royal Artillery in Burma at the height of World War II, leaving him with a permanent scar and lingering PTSD.

Jones said, “I knew they had done amazing things during the war, but we never talked about that memorable time in their lives.”

Reggie was separated from Doreen for three years after being posted in Burma and India, where conflict raged deep in the unpredictable jungle.

Family: Jones admits the search has deepened his regret for not interviewing grandparents Reggie and Doreen Heselwood (pictured) about their experiences while alive

Family: Jones admits the search has deepened his regret for not interviewing grandparents Reggie and Doreen Heselwood (pictured) about their experiences while alive

Poignant: The actor had a unique opportunity to posthumously research the impact it has had on their lives for Channel 4's My Grandparents' War

Poignant: The actor had a unique opportunity to posthumously research the impact it has had on their lives for Channel 4’s My Grandparents’ War

But he would keep in touch with his wife – a professional actress – through a weekly series of letters which would continue until he returned to the UK in 1945.

Doreen played her own part in the war after volunteering for the Entertainments National Service Association, a job that involved raising the spirits of battle-weary soldiers with musical performances in areas still divided by conflict.

Reflecting on his bond with Doreen, Jones – who took a 10,000 mile trip to India while retracing his grandfather’s wartime footsteps – admits she was fully supportive of his decision to become an actor.

He said: “My grandmother always liked that I followed in her footsteps. I was very close to them both.

“We always played cards together, they were great fun and had a great sense of humor.”

Formerly: Reggie Heselwood, photographed in India during World War II.  Reggie reached Quartermaster Royal Artillery and fought in the Battle of Imphal

Formerly: Reggie Heselwood, photographed in India during World War II. Reggie reached Quartermaster Royal Artillery and fought in the Battle of Imphal

Dedicated: Reggie has maintained contact with his wife - a professional actress - through a weekly series of letters which will continue until he returns to the UK

Dedicated: Reggie has maintained contact with his wife – a professional actress – through a weekly series of letters which will continue until he returns to the UK

Fascinating: Jones explored the long-term effect of World War II on his beloved grandparents

Fascinating: Jones explored the long-term effect of World War II on his beloved grandparents

Former brewery worker Reggie first met actress Doreen – affectionately known as Dorki – as war broke out across mainland Europe, before marrying in June 1940, two years before leaving Eastbourne for an assignment in Asia.

Doreen had already established herself as a member of the Entertainment National Service Association, and her wedding to Reggie took place just two weeks after she was evacuated from a French beach.

The young actress had signed up for a month-long tour of France, but was forced to abandon the country after Nazi Germany began its invasion in May 1940.

Revelation: Jones discovered his grandparents' undying love during World War II.

Revelation: Jones discovered his grandparents’ undying love during World War II.

Young actress: Doreen played her own part in the war after volunteering for the Entertainment National Service Association

Young actress: Doreen played her own part in the war after volunteering for the Entertainment National Service Association

After traveling more than 150 miles overnight, Doreen was picked up from the beach at Boulogne by the Royal Navy before being flown back to England, where she married Reggie.

He made an instant impression with the Royal Artillery, rising to the rank of Quartermaster and playing a key role in the Battle of Imphal as it raged across North East India from March to July 1944 .

However, he would return permanently scarred and haunted by his experiences in the jungle – where soldiers battled malaria, dysentery and typhus while battling the marauding Japanese army.

“Being a brewer doesn’t prepare you for jungle warfare,” Jones said. “I always noticed a mark on the back of his neck and near his mouth.”

Following in his footsteps: Jones had the opportunity to shoot the same gun his late grandfather used in World War II

Following in his footsteps: Jones had the opportunity to shoot the same gun his late grandfather used in World War II

Although Reggie never discussed the source of his injuries, a court record from the time confirms that a gunshot was allegedly received during the battle.

It reads: “On February 20, 1943, at 1:15 a.m., I returned from a reconnaissance and stopped my motorcycle.

“A sentry approached me and stood with his rifle in front of my face and said nothing. He pulled the trigger and a series of blanks were discharged within a foot of my face, hurting my mouth.

My Grandparents’ War: Tony Jones airs on Channel 4 on Thursday, October 5 at 8:00 p.m.

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