Northern Ireland

Bill Eames: D-Day veteran's honour after New Year award

Bill Eames
Image caption Bill Eames was honoured for his services to the Royal Air Forces Association and community work in County Fermanagh

A County Fermanagh World War Two veteran has spoken of his honour at being awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen's New Years Honours list.

Bill Eames was honoured for his services to the Royal Air Forces Association and community work in County Fermanagh.

The former RAF flight lieutenant is a native of Enniskillen.

The 96-year-old took part in some of the most important battles of World War Two.

The medal was founded in 1917 and was awarded for "meritorious" actions by civilians or military personnel.

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Media captionD-Day veteran goes back to school

On the morning of 6 June 1944 - D-Day - Mr Eames was involved in towing gliders to Ouistreham, northern France, where the troops on board helped secure Pegasus Bridge, an important target for the Allied Invasion Forces.

Later in September 1944, he took part in Operation Market Garden and the Allied attempt to secure the Rhine crossing at Arnhem.

On the first two days of this operation Flt Lt Eames was involved in dropping more glider-borne troops into the immediate Arnhem area.

Image caption Mr Eames took part in some of the most important battles of World War Two

On the third day he was resupplying the ground troops from low level when he was very badly injured by anti-aircraft fire from the ground.

Although wounded, he carried on and helped the other members of the crew to bring the bomber home, when he collapsed and was hospitalised with a lengthy stay.

"It is an honour for me to receive this award," Mr Eames said of his BEM.

"It helps bring attention to the work of the Royal Airforces Association, especially it's Fermanagh Branch, and their care for the welfare of ex-RAF personnel in my home County Fermanagh."

Mr Eames continues to receive and accept invitations to schools to share his experiences of World War Two and a distinguished career in the RAF.

Image caption Mr Eames with his son David

Selwyn Johnston, chairman of Headhunters Railway Museum said: "This award is recognition of Bill's commitment and dedication in helping to bring history to life for children who are learning about World War Two.

"Most recently Bill returned to his former primary school, Enniskillen Model on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day to share how he fulfilled his childhood dream to join the RAF and his experiences during World War Two.

"To the children Bill is revered as a hero, but in his humble way Bill reminds them he is a survivor and war is not something to glorify, but to remember the sacrifice and the consequences that might have been, should we not have won."

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