TWO veterans who were the last Gwent men of their regiment have died one day apart.

The bond between Ted Cogdell, from Griffithstown, and Ray Lewis, from Tredegar, was sealed amidst chaos and ruin almost 80 years ago, when both men fought for liberty and freedom in World War Two.

They originally met after being conscripted, just before the outbreak of war.

But Mr Cogdell died last week on February 2, with Mr Lewis passing away the following day.

Both were 100-years-old.

South Wales Argus:

Ray Lewis and Ted Cogdell in the war

In September 1939 Mr Cogdell and Mr Lewis were sent to the 55th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment. Then seven months later they were sent to Norway, following an invasion by Germany.

Once there, they were met with the might of the Nazi war machine – called Blitzkrieg, meaning ‘Lightning War’ – which involved ferocious attacks by tanks and dive bombers.

As anti-aircraft gunners, Mr Cogdell and Mr Lewis’s unit proved critical in repelling dive-bombers hurling from the skies.

South Wales Argus:

Ted Cogdell (third from left) at his Bofors gun site in Norway in 1940

The Allies later became victorious in pushing the Germans out of a Norwegian town of Narvik.

But despite the advance, British officials’ attention drifted towards France. And it was decided that more troops were required both at home and elsewhere.

All troops were then evacuated from Narvik between June 4 and 8.

This decision was recalled bitterly by Mr Cogdell, who previously told the Argus: “When we took Narvik, it was the first defeat the Nazis had, and it has always annoyed me that we gave it back so quickly.”

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South Wales Argus:

Ted Cogdell (left) and Ray Lewis (right) were close friends

A few years ago, the men were presented with a medal from the Norwegian government for their role in defending the country.

Tributes have now poured in for the former soldiers.

Mr Cogdell’s granddaughter, Edwina Hole, who lives in Alway, Newport, described both men as "heroes".

“I loved him very much," she said.

“He would do anything for anyone. For example, when my daughter was ill and needed surgery at Birmingham I had no idea how I would get back. After I told him he came all the way to fetch me – he was 80 at the time.

“He and Ray were very close, too. There will never be another generation like them. They were heroes. If it were not for people like them, none of us would be here now.”

South Wales Argus:

Picture of Ray Lewis and Ted Cogdell, during Mr Lewis' 100th birthday

And Sarah Harwood, who is a great-niece of Mr Lewis, added: “He was a lovely, lovely man.

“Both men met during the fighting in the war. I cannot believe they died one day apart from each other. My uncle passed away in hospital from old age.

“I would like to think that they are both now reunited. The whole family and I are just relieved that both of them were recognised for their roles in the war.”

The gallantry of these giants will forever be immortalised in history.