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Wartime recognition 'better late than never'
SEVENTY years after his heroic deeds played a part in winning the Second World War, veteran Leslie Valentine will be recognised by the Government for his bravery.
Mr Valentine, 94, is one of a dwindling number of former Bomber Command veterans who will be eligible to apply for a new medal, the Bomber Command Clasp.
Last week the Government announced the bravery of those who served with Bomber Command and risked their lives would be recognised by the new medal.
Mr Valentine, of Hethe, near Bicester, said he would be “proud” to wear the clasp, but felt recognition of Bomber Command should have been made earlier as many veterans had died.
The father of two, whose wife Vera died in 2011, said: “They just got me before I’m dead. There aren’t many left now. Of course I am proud, I think recognition is a good thing.”
Mr Valentine is believed to be the last Bomber Command veteran in Oxfordshire, according to charity Bomber Command Heritage.
Last November Mr Valentine was finally presented with his Defence Medal by Prime Minister David Cameron – 70 years after he should have got it.
He originally missed out receiving the medal for his service with the Highland Light Infantry because he volunteered for the Royal Air Force and went for training.
Mr Valentine’s son Dudley, 70, who also served with Bomber Command in the early 1960s, said: “I think it’s fabulous, it’s about time they got individual recognition.”
Dean Overton, chairman of Bomber Command Heritage, which is one of the bidders hoping to buy the former flying field site at RAF Bicester, off Skimmingdish Lane, to create a museum and heritage centre, said: “It’s a great day for the Bomber Command Association. This is the beginning of a great awakening for the whole subject of Bomber Command.”
North Oxfordshire MP Sir Tony Baldry said those who served in Bomber Command deserved recognition.
He said: “This is of particular relevance to Bicester where, of course, RAF Bicester was a key airfield for Bomber Command and it would be brilliant if in due course it were possible for those living in Oxfordshire who qualify for the Bomber Command clasp to be awarded it at RAF Bicester.”
To be eligible for the Bomber Command Clasp requires former servicemen to have the 1939 to 1945 Star, to which the clasp can be fixed. Apply online at veterans-uk.info or call 08457 800 900