The 8th Earl Spencer “kept his role in World War II a secret — even from his own family.

Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer and the younger brother of Diana, spoke exclusively to Today about uncovering his father John “Johnnie” Spencer’s past after receiving an unexpected letter.

“My family and I really didn’t know anything about my father’s war stories beyond the bare minimum. So I always had this question mark as to what he had done,” he said. “I got this letter out of the blue a few years ago. Totally surprised — ‘Do you know who a Lieutenant Althorp was? Because we have records he was involved in our liberation.’ And I wrote back and said, ‘Yes, Lieutenant Althorp would have been my father.’ “

A young English aristocrat, John was entrusted with the command of a section of the Royal Scot Greys and engaged in the Battle of Normandy in 1944. His role in the war helped liberate the French towns of La Neuve-Lyre and La Vieille-Lyre.”