Lincolnshire

Sleaford WWII veteran claims medals after 72 years

William Les Anderson Image copyright Sleaford Camaraderie Club
Image caption William Les Anderson was finally presented with three medals having previously believed he "did not deserve" them

A World War Two veteran has only just claimed his medals because he felt he "did not deserve" the honour until now.

William Les Anderson, who served with Bomber Command, was presented with three medals in recognition of his service.

It took the D-Day veteran from Sleaford 72 years to claim them before because he thought his comrades "had done more than I did".

The 93-year-old was a flight engineer on a Lancaster bomber.

He said he "eventually gave in" and decided to apply for the accolades because "people were badgering me".

"When I think of the people that didn't come back. I didn't apply for them because I didn't think I'd done anything special," he added.

Image caption Mr Anderson "eventually" claimed his three medals with the help of his family and the Sleaford Camaraderie Club

A special event was held for Mr Anderson, originally from Fife in Scotland, at the Sleaford Camaraderie Club, which he attends weekly.

Samantha Halligan, project co-ordinator at the club, said the former airman was "ecstatic" to receive the medals on 1 May.

Image copyright William Les Anderson
Image caption Mr Anderson, pictured with his wife in 1943, was first posted at RAF Kirmington, now Humberside Airport, before becoming a flight engineer

"The smile was just amazing to see. His daughter said he'd never smiled like that for years, which was unbelievable to hear," she said.

"Everything about him was 'I'm proud now. I've done this'. We all knew he'd done it but now we can actually see that he has."

The Ministry of Defence said it receives between 200 and 300 applications a week from veterans or their relatives retrospectively seeking to claim medals.

Applications are being submitted because people have either changed their minds or could not initially claim them in the first instance, it added.

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