A 90-YEAR-OLD World War Two veteran has finally been honoured with the medals he lost more than half a century ago.
Ernest Gardner, a leading stoker for the Royal Navy during the war, was awarded five medals in 1950, but lost them over time.
But after the intervention of a neighbour from his hometown of Pruna, near Olvera, Ernest finally got the recognition he deserved – at an emotional Royal British Legion ceremony in Alhaurin el Grande.
After moving to Pruna at the age of 84, Ernest – known as Eddie – had told his neighbour, David Sharp, stories of his his involvement in the D Day Landings.
Mr Sharp said: “He arrived in 2006 and I got to know him. We would go and see him a couple times a week or go out for a drink. My wife and I just tried to keep an eye on him and include him in our lives.”
When the two got chatting, David realised just how remarkable Ernest’s life had been.
But when Ernest revealed that he had lost the five medals after letting his children and grandkids play with them, David got in touch with the Ministry of Defence.
Officials confirmed the medals Ernest had been awarded, but were unable to provide copies.
At this point David decided to buy them himself.
“I really believe in the importance of recognising what people have done for their community.
This is a man who put his life on the line for others – remembrance is something that should never be forgotten.”
And after speaking with the Royal British Legion, David realised he could give Ernest the ceremony that he had never had.
“The British Legion have been fantastic – we have really had a huge amount of support from them.”
GUEST OF HONOUR: Proud Ernest at the British Legion ceremony
FLYING THE FLAG: For guest of honour Ernest