Veterans wear medals with pride

FORTY years after they served in Asia, nearly 150 Suffolk veterans have been awarded prestigious medals - and a Government ban was not about to stop them from wearing them with pride.

FORTY years after they served in Asia, nearly 150 Suffolk veterans have been awarded prestigious medals - and a Government ban was not about to stop them from wearing them with pride.

The war heroes from all three services received the Pingat Jasa Malaysia (PJM) at Endeavour House in Ipswich last night.

The honours, which were handed out by Colonel Tajri Alwi , defence adviser from the Malaysia High Commission, recognise service during a period known as the 2nd Malayan Emergency and Confrontation.

It is offered to Commonwealth forces who served in Malaysia in its fight to preserve its newly-won independence between 1957 and 1966.


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The ceremony took place amid heavy criticism of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which has denied the veterans the right to wear the medals because of century-old British laws.

The Government recently backed down from rules banning the acceptance of foreign medals - but the FCO's Grant of Honours and Decorations Committee has held back from granting veterans permission to wear them.

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But at the ceremony yesterday Suffolk veterans were prepared to defy the ban. David Calver, 67, from Bury St Edmunds, said: “If the Chelsea Pensioners can get away with it, we can.”

While he said he was “disgusted” at the Government decision, he added that he hoped it would soon be resolved. In the meantime he will get round the problem by putting the medal “on me somewhere” - although not next to his other honours.

For many, the ceremony revived memories of the difficult conditions of the mountainous jungle and the combat that claimed the lives of many of their comrades.

For Viv Brown of Shotley Gate, the ceremony was a particularly poignant occasion. She was there to collect the award given posthumously to her husband, Barry, who died four years ago.

She carried photographs of her husband's RAF Regiment with a few names he had scribbled on the back, hoping to trace at the ceremony some of those in the picture in the knowledge that only half of the regiment survived the conflict.

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