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PICTURES: Recognition at last for veterans on forces day in Falmouth

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: June 24, 2013

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Westcountry war veterans were honoured with long-awaited awards in a ceremony during Armed Forces Day at the weekend.

All generations of the services gathered in Falmouth on Saturday and escaped the worst of the weather as they paraded through the town led by the band from RNAS Culdrose, near Helston.

The march came to a halt in Events Square, where the Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, Colonel Edward Bolitho, presented Arctic Stars, Bomber Command Clasps and Veterans' Badges to men now in their late-80s and early 90s.

Mr Bolitho, said: "I should think some of these men served in hazardous and unpleasant conditions in the Second World War – on ships with open bridges on incredibly rough seas, in ice, in snow and with the constant danger of German U-boats.

"And the chances of surviving for those serving with the Bomber Command were incredibly slim. It must have been incredibly strange taking off from a nice place like Cornwall and being shot at – and absolutely terrifying.

"They were incredibly brave and for some reason haven't been recognised before. I don't know why it has taken so long but at least some of them have been able to be awarded for their work."

The creation of the Arctic Star medal, along with the new Bomber Command clasp, were announced by David Cameron last year, following a long-running campaign.

One recipient, Harold Thompson, from Mabe, near Falmouth, joined the Royal Navy aged 16 and served aboard HMS King George V – the first ship to go out to the Pacific Fleet. "I was honoured to receive the award," said the 90-year-old. "I think it's important veterans are recognised. We went through some hard times and some nice times too, but they all did an awfully great job."

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