Saturday, 25 September 2021
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Defence Viewpoints posts references to obituaries for former military personnel here on Viewpoints.

In addition to such public prominence, over recent years there has a steady (and, some would argue, long overdue) trickle of honours awarded to British heroes who have previously not been granted the recognition they richly deserve. Without the courage of many of these individuals, Britain could not have emerged victorious from World War Two, or played a strong role abroad in the years after.

The introduction of Veterans' Badges in 2004 provided a platform for granting recognition to those whose deeds may otherwise have slipped from memory. Initially reserved to veterans of UK armed forces of the First and Second World Wars, the scheme has since been extended, and now includes all those who have served in UK armed forces to date, with about 550,000 having been issued so far. (Declaration of interest : the Editor's mother has one!)

There are also numerous variations recognising the accomplishments of non-forces individuals, ensuring that many who made a no less valuable contribution to their country over the years have been honoured. Those acknowledged now include the Women's Land Army and Women's Timber Corps, honoured in January this year. There are also the "Bevin Boys", a generation of conscripts who went to work in Britain's mines between 1943 and 1948 instead of taking military service, who have been recognised with the "Bevin Boys Badge".

British merchant sailors also have their own version of the Veterans' Badge, the UK Merchant Seafarers Badge, recognising the courage and sacrifice those who served in hostile waters during the two World Wars, and in the years afterwards. Additionally, the Arctic Emblem was inaugurated in 2006 by Derek Twigg MP to commemorate the service of Merchant Seamen and members of the Armed Forces in the icy waters of the Arctic Region between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945. After years of campaigning and debate, a new medal for the Suez Canal Zone 1951-1953 was also issued in 2003 under the recommendations of a committee chaired by General Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank.

Most recently, men and women who served in the Air Transport Auxiliary were honoured at Downing Street earlier this month for their invaluable role during WW2. The ATA consisted of women, air cadets, engineers and operations officers who risked their lives to deliver aircraft from the workshops and factories where they were built or repaired to front-line airfields. This arm had a remarkable success rate, ensuring the delivery over 309,000 aircraft over the course of the war. Of course, the German Luftwaffe made no distinction between a Spitfire in delivery and a Spitfire in action, and 173 ATA pilots lost their lives performing this vital service, including pioneering aviatrix Amy Johnson. ATA veterans (or their next of kin) can now wear with pride their "Air Transport Auxiliary Veterans Badge".

For more information on badges and medals for veterans, including how to claim a badge, visit the UK Veterans website.

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