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101-year-old honoured by Russian Government

Joe Rawlings, from Carlisle, is one of several men who have just been honoured by the Russian Government for the vital part he played serving in the infamous Arctic Convoys during World War Two.

Paul Crone went to meet the great man himself.

Click to visit a list of some of the remembrance services in Cumbria and in Scotland.

The camaraderie 'kept us going'

Excerpt from Joe's diary. Credit: ITV Border

A 101-year-old WW2 veteran from Carlisle has said that the camaraderie on board ships kept them going.

Joe Rawlings served as an Air Directions Office on board HMS Activity. Joe was responsible for guiding allied planes as they hunted for German warplanes and U boats, as the Arctic Convoys made their way to the Soviet Union carrying vital supplies and ammunition.

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'In one day we downed 3 enemy planes and 6 U-boats'

The Ushakov Medal is awarded by the Russian Government forcourage and bravery. Credit: ITV Border

A 101-year-old WW2 veteran from Carlisle is 'honoured' to have received a medal from the Russian Government.

The Ushakov Medal is awarded by the Russian Government for courage and bravery.

Many British merchant seamen and Royal Navy personnel have been awarded the medal for the crucial role they played during the Second World War as convoys braved treacherous conditions in the Arctic Ocean.

Below, Joe explains that he understood the importance of the aims at the time:

Russian Government honours Carlisle WW2 veteran

Excerpt from Joe's diary. Credit: ITV Border
Joe Rawlings served on board the HMS Activity, pictured above. Credit: ITV Border

A 101-year-old war veteran, from Carlisle, is one of a number of former soldiers to receive a medal from the Russian Government.

Joe Rawlings served on board HMS Activity as an Air Directions Officer. Joe was responsible for guiding allied planes as they hunted for German warplanes and U boats, as the Arctic Convoys made their way to the Soviet Union carrying vital supplies and ammunition.

Excerpt from Joe's diary. Credit: ITV Border

Airfield preserved for its wartime past

It starred in the opening sequence of the famous film The Dambusters, and was responsible for training thousands of pilots during the Second World War.

Now a local action group fighting to preserve the airfield at Silloth in West Cumbria has received a grant, ensuring the role the town played during the war won't be forgotten.

Paul Crone has this report:

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Many lost their lives training for the war

Silloth Airfield opened in 1939 and trained thousands of servicemen during the Second World War.

So many accidents occurred over Solway Bay, it became known as 'Hudson Bay', after the Hudson planes that were notoriously difficult to fly.

Not far from the runway is a cemetery for those who lost their lives training for war.

Lawrence Marshall has vivid memories of living next to the airfield during the war:

Silloth Airfield trained thousands during WW2

The Hudson planes were notoriously hard to fly Credit: Gordon Akitt

A project to highlight one of the best kept secrets of the Second World War has been launched in West Cumbria.

Silloth Airfield opened in 1939 and trained thousands of American, Canadian and British pilots to fly fighters and bombers during the war.

Dozens lost their lives during their training Credit: Gordon Akitt

The Silloth Tourism Action Group has received a Heritage Lottery Grant to preserve the site for future generations, and to highlight the part the seaside town played during the war.

Training the pilots, navigators and wireless operators to fly the notoriously difficult Hudson planes came at cost.

In the cemetery, just a few hundreds yards from the end of the runway, are the graves of dozens of aircrew who lost their lives training for war.

The Silloth Tourism Action Group would like people to get involved Credit: Gordon Akitt

It’s hoped many other residents will come forward to assist in the project with memories and photos of the town’s wartime years.

Special ceremonies to mark D Day at 70

This summer marks the 70th anniversary of a key event in the second world war, and the Royal British Legion is offering help and support to any veterans from Cumbria and the South of Scotland who may want to commemorate it.

More than 150,000 troops took part in the D Day landings, when allied forces crossed the channel to land on the Normandy beaches.

Special ceremonies will be taking place in France to mark the anniversary. And, although the number of veterans is dwindling, the Royal British Legion are encouraging as many as possible to try to go.

For more information about the commemorations you can visit the Royal British Legion website.

If you are a veteran and you, or your family are planning to attend the ceremonies then we'd like to hear from you.

You can get in touch with us by emailing pamandian@itv.com.

Second World War love letters mystery

Letters written by a couple during the Second World War have been discovered at a house in Carlisle. They are due to up for auction.

The couple are called Lawrence Frederick Heald and his sweetheart, Carlisle girl Annie Wilson, who signs her name "nance". Not much else is known about them but there were some newspaper cuttings of Annie that were found with the letters.

The pair do get married but never get the chance to live together. The correspondence between them ends abruptly in April 1944.

Now there's an attempt to solve the mystery of what happened to the couple.

Matthew Taylor reports.

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