THE extraordinary bravery of airmen who risked their lives to protect their country was honoured at a touching ceremony last night.
More than 100 people gathered at the Royal Marines Association Club in Eastney to watch RAF veteran Laurie Davis pick up a clasp finally recognising his services in Bomber Command.
He was one of the lucky ones because a total of 55,573 airmen from Bomber Command never returned home.
But it has taken almost 70 years for their gallantry to be officially recognised by the government, with the Bomber Command clasp being made this year.
Mr Davis was presented with the clasp by Air Commodore Chris Bray, head of operations for the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency.
Mr Davis, 88, who lives in Blount Road, Old Portsmouth, said: ‘I am absolutely over the moon. It’s been a fantastic reception for both myself and my family.
‘I am overwhelmed with pride.
‘My thoughts are for all those who can’t receive them.’
Hampshire Constabulary’s Chief Constable, Andy Marsh, accepted a clasp on behalf of his late grandfather, who died in June this year, aged 96, at his home in Liverpool.
Despite increasing frailty, Roy Whipple, a squadron leader in Bomber Command, was present at the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, London, last year.
Mr Marsh said he was immensely proud of his grandfather, who cycled from Liverpool to Oxford in 1939 to volunteer for the RAF.
He said: ‘It’s a great honour on behalf of my family to remember a great grandad, a great father and a very brave airman during the Second World War.
‘My grandad was a very modest man and didn’t ever talk about bravery.
‘It’s clear from what I’ve read about the young men in Bomber Command they were incredibly brave and it was a very brave thing they did.’
Air Cdre Bray OBE said: ‘For them to fly into the teeth of the enemy was fantastic and deserves recognition.’