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American filmmaker on the search for Norfolk Second World War veterans

PUBLISHED: 14:31 02 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:52 02 October 2018

WWII veteran, Len Mann, being interview by American film maker Rishi Sharma.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

WWII veteran, Len Mann, being interview by American film maker Rishi Sharma. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

An American filmmaker is on a mission to document as many Second World War veterans as possible before they die.

WWII veteran, Len Mann, being interview by American film maker Rishi Sharma.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYWWII veteran, Len Mann, being interview by American film maker Rishi Sharma. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Rishi Sharma has come to the UK from South California in the search of combat veterans to interview.

The 20-year-old has spoken to more than 900 veterans across the USA and Canada before bringing his camera to Norfolk.

Mr Sharma said: “I’m just trying to find as many combat veterans in the UK as possible.

“The main reason I have come is to meet the veterans who went to Dunkirk and far east prisoners of war, those are two groups of veterans I am really interested in meeting, but just any combat veterans would be a pleasure.”

WWII veteran, Len Mann, being interview by American film maker Rishi Sharma.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYWWII veteran, Len Mann, being interview by American film maker Rishi Sharma. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mr Sharma is planning to meet people around the UK for the next two weeks.

He first arrived in the Isle of Man, before heading to Liverpool, Aberdeen, London and Lowestoft before making his way to Norwich.

His love of studying the Second World War started when he was a child. He read memoirs of American veterans and from the age of 16 he started to find their phone numbers to set-up interviews.

After graduating from Agoura High School, in California, he made the decision not to go to University but instead to travel the world documenting veterans.

WWII veteran, Len Mann, being interview by American film maker Rishi Sharma.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYWWII veteran, Len Mann, being interview by American film maker Rishi Sharma. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

His search gained national attention in the states after being covered in the media. This lead to Mr Sharma being offered a number of grants that have allowed him to continue his work.

Mr Sharma added: “I would call veterans and it was such a cool feeling to actually talk to the people that I’m reading about.

“I then started writing to retirement homes and interviewing all the World War Two members.

“In the US they did a story which was run on Armistice Day which enabled me to receive Oral History Grants and thousands of people reached out to me.”

WWII veteran, Len Mann, being interview by American film maker Rishi Sharma.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYWWII veteran, Len Mann, being interview by American film maker Rishi Sharma. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mr Sharma was in Norwich to interview Leonard Mann, 94, from Sprowston. He was 19 when he joined the war effort as part of the Devonshire Regiment.

He has lived in Norwich all his life and became a butcher after leaving the army.

He landed on the beach at Normandy before pushing over the Rhine and on to Germany.

To contact Mr Sharma go to www.heroesofthesecondworldwar.org or call 07746934163.

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