90-year-old Ipswich war hero is honoured with French Legion of Honour medal

Basil "Gordon" Catling has been awarded a French Legion of Honour medal for his services during the

Basil "Gordon" Catling has been awarded a French Legion of Honour medal for his services during the War. - Credit: Gregg Brown

An Ipswich man has spoke of his pride at being awarded a French Legion of Honour medal for his actions during the Second World War.

Basil "Gordon" Catling has been awarded a French Legion of Honour medal for his services during the

Basil "Gordon" Catling has been awarded a French Legion of Honour medal for his services during the War. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Basil Catling, known as Gordon, wore the medal at the unveiling of the memorial spire at International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln.

The 90-year-old, who was born in Little Barclay Street and now lives in Oaksmere Gardens, said: “I’m very very proud of my medal.

“I flew in 30 operations over Europe, night and day.

“People were amazed to see a Bomber Command with a medal.


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“I never thought I would get one.”

Mr Catling, who flew in and out of RAF Skellingthorpe with the 50 Squadron, was given a special invite to the event in Lincoln.

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The Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial Trust, in partnership with the University of Lincoln, aims to open the Centre in 2016.

It aims to provide the most comprehensive record of Bomber Command in the world.

“I was really proud of being there – I’m the last one left,” he said.

He was part of the air force and flying until 1970. His first flight was in 1944.

“I could have gone back on the VC10s in 1973, but I didn’t like the set up of them.”

While at the centre he met someone he first got to know during the war.

Mr Catling said: “I last saw him in 1945, I met him again in 1989 and then saw him in Lincoln.

“As soon as we saw each other we recognised each other.

“We were just talking to each like normal.”

Mr Catling added that he would like to return to the centre when it was completed and officially opened.

See more on Ipswich’s war efforts here

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