VIDEO & PICTURES: Veterans honoured with awards at Armed Forces Day in Falmouth
WAR VETERANS were honoured with awards in a ceremony during Armed Forces Day in Falmouth on Saturday.
All generations of the services were united earlier and narrowly escaped rain on their parade at 11am.
When the march, led by the Culdrose Band, culminated in Events Square, the Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall , Colonel Edward Bolitho OBE, presented Arctic Stars, Bomber Command Clasps and Veterans’ Badges (to raise the profile of veterans) to men now in their late 80s and early 90s.
After the ceremony, 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.
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“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 general feeling among veterans was one of pride, but also that the awards should have been presented years ago as many of those who should have received them have now passed away.
The Arctic Star is a campaign medal of the UK awarded for service above the Arctic Circle in World War II, coming nearly 70 years after the end of the war.
One receiver, Harold Thompson from Mabe, said he joined the Royal Navy aged 16 and served aboard HMS King George V – the first ship to go out to form 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.”
Norman Hyde, from Helston, who was a petty officer in the Engine Room Department of the Merchant Navy, also received an Arctic Star.
“I’m very proud and I was a long time waiting for it,” said the 91-year-old. “It’s a wonderful event and it brings modern, younger people some idea of what we all did years ago.
“It unites the generations of the armed services.”
Peter Francis, 88, from Pentewan, was one of those presented with a Bomber Command Clasp.
This is granted to Bomber Command aircrew who served for at least 60 days or completed a tour of operations and flew at least one operational sortie between September 3, 1939 and May 8, 1945.
Mr Francis said he signed up at the age of 17 and went on his first operation as a rear gunner in the 171 Squadron aged 18.
“My own personal feeling is that it’s a little too late,” he said.
“Most of the chaps who should have got the awards have gone now. We were only boys at the time and there aren’t too many of us left.
“In a couple of year I’m going to see my mid-upper gunner’s grave. He was from Fife - killed at the age of 20.”
Dave Kennedy, aged 87, from Redruth, received an Artic Star for his work with the Royal Navy, serving on American-built frigate HMS Domett in the Mediterranean and Arctic.
“Today I was very, very pleased and I felt very sorry for a lot of my shipmates who weren’t here,” he said.
“I have another blazer with a badge pinned to it which says ‘we are the lucky ones’.”
Flight displays scheduled for Armed Forces Day had to be cancelled due to the weather.
The Jet Provost T5 Display over the inner harbour at 12pm did not take place and neither did the Avro Anson Display at 2pm.
Organisers of the event say the Britain Memorial Flight at 4pm will not go ahead either due to a low cloud base.
The final event took place on Saturday night with a performance by the Royal Marines Band Concert in Events Square.