A World War 2 veteran who flew 35 missions in some of the most dangerous circumstances has begun an online petition to get the medal he deserves after being barred from receiving it because he flew from the wrong airbase.
92-year-old Theo Eaves was based in Italy during the war and worked as a wireless operator on deadly missions flying over Europe.
He's spent years campaigning for himself and other veterans to be recognised with the Bomber Command Clasp for their bravery and service in war but has been told he's not eligible for the award, which has been reserved for those who flew over Western Europe.
Theo believes he and his pals who flew over Italy, Africa, the Middle East and Far East were just as instrumental in Britain's war effort and, after two years campaigning by letter to the Ministry of Defence, the widower and father of two has now decided to take his battle online.
His petition has so far wracked up over 1000 signatures. He needs 100,000 to have the issue debated in Parliament.
Theo, a retired head-teacher, said he was proud of his campaign and believed he and his comrades deserved the same honour as their colleagues who flew in the Battle of Britain.
Theo volunteered in 1941 and was called up in 1942. After training in the UK and Middle East he was called into action in late 1943 as part of 142 Squadron, 205 group.
He flew all his operations out of Italy, dropping bombs on oil refineries, docks, harbours, bridges, aerodrome sites and enemy troops in Italy, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia. He e also had to lay mines in the Danube river to hold up the German supplies.
In total he flew 35 operations spending many of those 175 hours under heavy attack from gunfire from land and air.
Macclesfield MP David Rutley is also supporting Theo's campaign.
A MOD spokesperson said:
"We have enormous admiration and respect for the unique contribution and sacrifice that Bomber aircrew serving outside of the UK made to protect Britain during the Second World War." "However, Sir John Holmes recommended not to give medallic recognition to those who flew from outside the UK during his Review of Military Medals. This decision was made independently of the MOD and subsequently agreed by the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals and the Queen." "Sir John Holmes' Review was conducted independently of the MOD. There are currently no plans to look at this issue again, given that Sir John concluded his review in July 2014." "The MOD accepts that some of the bomber squadrons based overseas did undertake sorties into Northern Europe, including Germany, but as these were not a part of Bomber Command, those personnel cannot apply for the Bomber Command Clasp." "Service on those operations would have entitled the individuals concerned to either the Africa Star or the Italy Star, provided that they met the eligibility criteria." "Although the Bomber crews serving outside of the UK were not part of Bomber Command itself, the missions they flew played a key role in the defeat of the Axis powers and the courage and sacrifice of those crews, who risked their lives to ensure freedom endured and Europe was liberated, is deserving of the country's admiration and gratitude." >