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Wednesday, 12 April, 2000, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
Russian city honours Queen Mother
The Queen Mother was "deeply touched" by the honour
The Queen Mother has been made an honorary citizen of the Russian city Volgograd to mark her post-war relief work for its citizens.

We remember well that the first hospital sent to Stalingrad at that time was from Britain, and it was you who helped to collect funds for this

Mayor of Volgograd
The people of city - previously known as Stalingrad - suffered greatly as they fought the battle which blocked the Nazis' advance in 1942-3.

Volgograd Mayor Yuri Chekhov said the city had never forgotten the Queen Mother's work at the end of the war to organise relief supplies.

At a ceremony in Clarence House, her London residence, the Queen Mother told Mr Checkov: "I am deeply touched by the honour you have done me."

"In the war, the King and I greatly admired the wonderful fortitude of your soldiers and the people of Stalingrad."

stalingrad in the war
Stalingrad was destroyed in bitter fighting
Mr Chekhov told the Queen Mother, who is 100 on 4 August: "We remember well that the first hospital sent to Stalingrad at that time was from Britain, and it was you who helped to collect funds for this."

When the Queen Mother - then the wife of King George VI - learned about the destruction of the city, which was besieged by Field Marshal Von Paulus's Eighth Army, she initiated a fundraising campaign among the British nobility for the Stalingrad Defence Foundation.

She was the first to person to make a donation.

Together with Clementine, wife of then prime minister Winston Churchill, she organised for a collection of warm clothes, medical supplies and thousands of books with personal inscriptions to be sent to Stalingrad.

Stalingrad was honoured by King George VI who awarded its people his sword.

The Queen Mother told guests - who included the Russian ambassador to London - said she had watched a film about Volgograd and wished she could see the city for herself.

"It's very fine, isn't it - a beautiful city. I wish I'd seen it - not far to fly, is it?"

She joked that she could even visit without notice.

"I could just arrive - some day that would be wonderful," she said.

Nazi defeat

She presented guests with signed photographs of herself and also a large, signed picture for the walls of Volgograd Council.

Volgograd, on the Volga river, is a major industrial centre in southern Russia, formerly known as Tsaritsin and Stalingrad.

The Volga Hydropower Station of Volgograd is the most powerful in Europe.

The Nazis attacked Stalingrad in July 1942 in an attempt to block the Red Army's supply of oil from the Caucasus.

Their defeat was one of Germany's most significant in World War II - but at a huge cost to Stalingrad, which was destroyed.

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