A young English aristocrat, John "Johnnie" Spencer was entrusted with the command of a section of the Royal Scot Greys and engaged in the Battle of Normandy in 1944
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Princess Diana‘s father 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.’ ”

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A young Lieutenant Althorp, who would later become the 8th Earl Spencer.
| Credit: Today Show
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Lord Spencer served as Captain in the Royal Scots Greys from 1944 to 1945
| Credit: Today Show

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.

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Credit: Today Show

“I was excited!” said June Gillis, a local librarian living in Normandy, who discovered the connection with a local historian, Basil Kourotchkine. “People are very proud of the fact that Lady D’s father liberated these two villages.”

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The stone memorial in La Vieille-Lyre, France that honors Lord Spencer and his men for liberating the town in August 1944
| Credit: Today Show

Seventy-five years later, Charles says he finally has some answers of his father’s military life.

“I think most people remember my father from my sister Diana’s wedding,” he said. “Very proud moment for him. But of course, he had his own story.”

Tune in to the full segment on Today, airing Wednesday on NBC.