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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 November, 2004, 07:47 GMT
NI veteran's emotional return
A Northern Ireland war veteran has made an emotional return to the Italian battlefield where he helped save the lives of fellow soldiers.

Rowland Todd
Rowland Todd fought in Italy

Rowland Todd from east Belfast was mentioned in dispatches for his bravery.

The 81-year-old was able to make the trip through the Big Lottery Fund's Heroes Return.

The latest round of grants was announced on Wednesday.

The fund has allowed soldiers on both sides of the Irish border to travel to the areas where they fought during World War Two.

Mr Todd is one of 13 veterans from Belfast, Ballymena and Armagh, receiving grants on Wednesday.

He served as a private in the 1st Battalion of the London Irish Rifles.

His brother William John was killed in action in Norway at the start of the war and his eldest brother William James was badly wounded in Italy and north Africa.

It prompted his mother to write to Field Marshall Montgomery begging for her youngest son, Rowland, to be released from duty.

'Theatres of action'

Mr Todd said: "My commanding officer called me in and showed me the letter. He asked me what I wanted to do.

"I said I wanted to stay and fight for my country. I joined the army from borstal and I wanted to make my mother proud of me by serving my country."

Announcing the grants Breidge Gadd, one of the Big Lottery Fund's Northern Ireland Board members, said: "The Big Lottery Fund is well aware of the tremendous public support for the Heroes Return Scheme.

"Helping veterans to return to their theatres of action is a fitting tribute by lottery players to the sacrifices which these men made during the Second World War."

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