This is going to be the first of a couple of posts related to this subject.
I’m going to give some back ground to an incident that occurred within our family, and to the strange set of circumstances that occurred that led us to apply for a posthumous award that is the Elizabeth cross.
The man I was named after, my uncle David was a serving member of the Royal Marines 45 Commando at the time of the troubles in Cyprus in the 1950s. David was a Kings badge-man, this is an accolade given to the best recruit in a troop whilst training, it is not easy to obtain, you have to be someone quite special. He went on to become a Sergeant, he was known as “Snowy” by his unit due to his pure white hair.
My wife and I have been to Wayne’s keep military cemetery on the green line near Nicosia that has divided Cyprus since the early 70s. This is where David was laid to rest. We did this Around 2010 and had to get permission from the high commission due to the security and sensitivity of the area, and we were escorted around by members of the Scots guards who were based there at this time. If anyone has visited the Nicosia area you will notice a large Turkish flag painted on the Mountains beyond the city walls, there since the Turkish occupied this part of the island around 1974. Wayne’s Keep Cemetery looks over towards this mountain range.
Fast forward to 2019 and I start to get weird posts and emails forwarded to me coming through on Facebook, does anyone know someone from the Watford area called David Baldwin? Does anyone know of a David Baldwin that was in Cyprus? Does anyone know of a David Baldwin that was in the Royal Marines?
It transpires that an old soldier that also served in Cyprus is searching for relatives of the 372 service men who died during the four years of troubles, who are now entitled to claim the Elizabeth cross, a medal and scroll signed by the queen and now issued to those who have died whilst in service in areas of conflict attributed to terrorists activity. The man is Les Smith, since 2016 he has single handily made it his life goal to get the recognition these individuals deserved. Les has traced our family by social media and when one of these requests for information were passed on to me I made contact with Les via the Cyprus Veterans website.
I was Told that David was entitled to the Elizabeth cross and that if we wanted to, the family could apply for the medal. I spoke with members of the family and we all agreed that we should apply for the award in David’s memory. I was told how to apply, what to include in the letter and where to send the application off to. I was informed it would probably be a good few months before we heard anything, so we went about things as per normal and true enough, three months later we heard we were going to get the medal, not only that David was also entitled to his General service medal for Cyprus so this was also to be awarded as part of the Elizabeth cross presentation. We were again asked to wait a while longer whilst the method of presentation was arranged.
The Royal Marines are fantastic. They made contact a few months after the last contact and have now invited members of our family to be guests of honour at the Mountbatten music festival, a celebration of the Royal marines music that is held annually at the Royal Albert Hall in London. So on Friday 6th March 2020 we will be heading to London to attend a private function prior to the festival to be presented the medals by a representative of the Queen and a high ranking officer of the Royal Marines. We are already beyond proud of Uncle David. I will Post part two of this blog when Friday comes.
Thanks for reading.