Posts Tagged ‘honoured’

Sir Winston Churchill honoured with £20 commemorative coin

January 16th, 2015

Ahead of the collectors’ item going on sale, Sir Winston’s great-grandson Randolph Churchill, with his seven-year-old son John, visited The Royal Mint in Llantrisant, south Wales, to strike one of the solid silver coins.

He said: “This year marks 50 years since the death of my great grandfather and 75 years since his finest hour on becoming wartime Prime Minister.

“It is fantastic to see so many and such varied activities taking place to celebrate everything that he achieved during his long life.

“We need to ensure that his legacy is sustained for the benefit of future generations.

“It is an honour to have the opportunity to play a part in these commemorations, and I am delighted to strike one of these special coins which will serve as a unique reminder of a great man.

“To do so with my young son is a special honour which encapsulates the important link between past, present and future.”

Shane Bissett, The Royal Mint’s Director of Commemorative Coin and Medals said the mint first produced a commemorative coin bearing an image of Sir Winston Churchill to mark his death in 1965.

He added: “Churchill holds a significant place in Britain’s history as a great leader, soldier, artist and writer, not only acting as Prime Minister on two occasions but also leading the country twice through the dark days of war.

“His image, reputation and legacy are instantly recognisable all over the world; therefore it is only fitting that he takes pride of place on The Royal Mint’s third £20 for £20 coin.”

The mint’s coin comes as part of Churchill 2015 – an international celebration of the life and legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

Organisers say they hope it will keep his memory alive as well as educate and inspire future generations.


World War Two

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in WWII News | Comments Off

Grandmother honoured with three war medals after a 70-year wait

January 1st, 2015

“I’m deeply honoured but a bit embarrassed too. I’m an old girl now and it all happened 70 years ago, for God’s sake.”

Mrs Banti had no idea that she was eligible for the medals until a chance encounter at Easter with a retired British brigadier, Bill Bewley.

He was staying in an apartment owned by Mrs Banti’s son-in-law, John Pepper, a photographer and theatre director who was brought up in Italy and lives in Palermo, Sicily.

The pair got chatting and Mrs Banti mentioned to the brigadier that as a school girl in Rome under the German occupation she had helped the resistance, distributing anti-fascist literature and even helping to transport dynamite around the city.


Rossana Banti, 1945 (John Pepper)

Hearing by chance of a clandestine British organisation that was looking for recruits, she made contact with British officers and joined up, first with the FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) and then with No 1 Special Forces Unit SOE, where she served as a radio operator.

Brig Bewley did some research in British military archives and discovered that Mrs Banti was entitled to three war medals which she had never received.

She served with the cloak-and-dagger unit from Sept 1943 until the end of the war, maintaining contact with British agents working with Italian partisans behind German lines.

At the time, southern Italy and Rome had been liberated by the Allies but the north of the country was still occupied by German and Italian fascist troops, who fought bitter rear-guard actions all the way up the peninsula.

“We were dealing with secret agents who were parachuted into the north to make contact with Italian partisans. We kept them supplied with weapons, food, clothing, that sort of thing,” she said.

She also helped brief and prepare agents, including anti-fascist Italians and Yugoslavs, who were kept at a secret base in the countryside prior to being parachuted behind the lines.

“It was all top security. They weren’t told until 24 hours before that they were going to be dropped by parachute. It all happened at night – the partisans would light up the drop zone.

“It was the most incredible human experience I’ve had in my life. I was only 19 but I just went with my heart. They saw me as a sister, a mother.

“Sometimes they cried – they had no idea where they were going or what they would find when they got there. It was a very difficult psychological situation. I helped them get into their parachutes and off they went.”

Many did not return. A Yugoslav agent whom Mrs Banti knew was caught and shot by the Germans.


Senora Banti with Major Williams

Initially based near Bari in the southern region of Puglia, and then in Siena in Tuscany, Mrs Banti also trained as a parachutist and hoped to be sent behind enemy lines with the other agents.

“But then the war ended. I was very disappointed.” She ended up marrying one of the secret agents – an Italian named Giuliano Mattioli, who went by the British alias of Julian Matthews.

They married just days before he was sent off on a mission, parachuting behind enemy lines near Bergamo in northern Italy in early 1945.

He fought with the partisans and helped liberate the city from German control. After they were both demobilised at the end of the war, they had two children.


Rosanna Banti aged 89 ( John Pepper)

Mrs Banti, who turns 90 on Jan 8, established a career as a television producer, working for RAI, the Italian state broadcaster, as well as for the BBC in London.

“This brave woman has been unaware of the impact of her wartime service and is finally being given just recognition 70 years later,” the British embassy in Rome said in a statement.

The medals will be presented by Christopher Prentice, the British ambassador.

It will be a long overdue recognition of her contribution to one of Britain’s most fabled clandestine intelligence organisations.

“From humble beginnings, SOE became active in every theatre of war, dispatching thousands of trained operatives to harass enemy garrisons, attack important installations, and encourage, arm and fight beside movements as diverse as communist partisans in the Balkans and headhunting tribes in Borneo,” historian Roderick Bailey wrote in Target:Italy, a recent book on the secret network’s activities against Mussolini’s fascist regime.

Mr Pepper said his mother-in-law had initially been reluctant to receive the medals.

“We had to apply for them in secret. We only told her 10 days ago because we knew that at such short notice she couldn’t back out. She has been very demure about it all but I think she’s warming up to the idea,” he said from Sicily.


World War Two

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in WWII News | Comments Off

‘British Schindler’ Sir Nicholas Winton honoured for saving children from Nazi death camps

October 29th, 2014

Following the German annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938, Winton arranged transport for 669 children, most of them Jewish, from Czechoslovakia through Germany to Britain ahead of the outbreak of World War II.

The first transport left on 14 March 1939, the day before the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, according to the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

A final train load of 250 children, due to depart on 3 September 1939, was prevented from leaving when Poland was invaded.

The children were taken by train to foster families in England who were willing to put up the then-huge sum of 50 pounds sterling and had agreed to look after them until they were 17.

Sir Nicholas was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.


World War Two

Sir Nicholas Winton: Britain’s Schindler honoured by Czech Republic

October 28th, 2014

An estimated 6,000 children around the world are descendants of ‘Nicky’s Children’.

Speaking at the ceremony, with members of his family looking on, he was typically modest about his role in history. “I thank the British people for making room for them, to accept htem, and of course the enormous help given by so many of the Czechs who at that time were doing what they could to fight the Germans and to try and get the children out,” he said.

“In that respect, I was of some help and this is the result.”


Nicholas Winton with one of the children he rescued from Czechoslovakia

President Zeman said he was ashamed that Winton had waited so long to receive the honour, but added: “Better late than never.”

Sir Nicholas’s actions came to public attention only in 1988, when he was reunited with some of those who owed him their lives on an emotional episode of the BBC programme That’s Life!

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme before the ceremony, Sir Nicholas said he was saddened by the state of the world today.

“We have made a mess of it,” he said. “I don’t think we ever learn from our mistakes of the past. I don’t think we have learned anything.

“The world today is in a more dangerous situation than it has ever been, and so long as we have got weapons of mass destruction nothing is safe any more.”


World War Two

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in WWII News | Comments Off

War veteran who fled care home to attend D day celebrations honoured by home city

July 23rd, 2014

Asked why he travelled across to Normandy, Mr Jordan, a former local borough councillor and mayor of Hove, said: ”My thoughts were with my mates who had been killed.

”I was going across to pay my respects. I was a bit off course but I got there.”

He added: ”Britain is a smashing country and the people are smashing, and if you have to do something a bit special then they are worth every effort.”

Brighton and Hove City Council officials said the honorary alderman title is a mark of respect for the work and commitment given by a former councillor.

Mr Jordan’s honour was to mark his ”exceptional contribution to the work of the newly-formed Brighton and Hove Council and the former Hove Borough Council and to the community”.

Mr Fitch described Mr Jordan – affectionately known as Bernie – as ”a hero and an inspiration to all ages”.

He said: ”It’s grey power. What it shows is that where you have commitment and where you are determined, you can find a way, and that’s what Bernie has done.”

Mr Jordan hit headlines globally when he disappeared from his care home to embark on his cross-Channel trip to the D-Day anniversary events in Normandy wearing his war medals under his grey mac.

His disappearance sparked a police search on June 5 and his whereabouts was only uncovered when a younger veteran phoned later that night to say he had met Mr Jordan and he was safe.

Last month he was inundated with more than 2,500 birthday cards from around the world following his adventure to Normandy.


World War Two

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in WWII News | Comments Off

War veteran who fled care home to Normandy D Day celebrations honoured

July 17th, 2014

Asked why he travelled across to Normandy, Mr Jordan, a former local borough councillor and mayor of Hove, said: ”My thoughts were with my mates who had been killed.

”I was going across to pay my respects. I was a bit off course but I got there.”

He added: ”Britain is a smashing country and the people are smashing, and if you have to do something a bit special then they are worth every effort.”

Brighton and Hove City Council officials said the honorary alderman title is a mark of respect for the work and commitment given by a former councillor.

Mr Jordan’s honour was to mark his ”exceptional contribution to the work of the newly-formed Brighton and Hove Council and the former Hove Borough Council and to the community”.

Mr Fitch described Mr Jordan – affectionately known as Bernie – as ”a hero and an inspiration to all ages”.

He said: ”It’s grey power. What it shows is that where you have commitment and where you are determined, you can find a way, and that’s what Bernie has done.”

Mr Jordan hit headlines globally when he disappeared from his care home to embark on his cross-Channel trip to the D-Day anniversary events in Normandy wearing his war medals under his grey mac.

His disappearance sparked a police search on June 5 and his whereabouts was only uncovered when a younger veteran phoned later that night to say he had met Mr Jordan and he was safe.

Last month he was inundated with more than 2,500 birthday cards from around the world following his adventure to Normandy.


World War Two

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in WWII News | Comments Off

Archives

Categories