Page last updated at 14:42 GMT, Saturday, 20 September 2008 15:42 UK

Veteran reunited with lost medals

Charles Brown with Jean-Philippe Trenque
Mr Brown lost his medals as he boarded a boat using his walking frame

A 93-year-old veteran of the Dunkirk evacuation has been reunited with war medals after they were recovered by scuba divers from the River Thames.

Charles Brown lost two rows of medals last Sunday as he boarded a boat during the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships cruise from Kingston to Weybridge.

Mr Brown said he was "emotional" about the medals which included an OBE, a Dunkirk and Normandy campaign medal.

Divers from Teddington Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) found them.

Scuba divers began their fingertip search near Kingston Bridge at about 1100 BST on Saturday.

Last week attempts to recover the medals with magnets proved unsuccessful.

Mr Brown lost the medals from the breast pocket of his jacket as he used his walking frame to board a boat near Kingston Bridge.

On hearing about the recovery Mr Brown, who is originally from Southwark in south London, came to the riverside from his care home in Woking, Surrey.

He said: "I do get a bit emotional because these medals meant so much to me. I wasn't a celebrity, a pop singer or a cricketer, these medals were what I was proud of.

"I'm not going to be celebrating with cream cakes or anything like that, just having the medals back is enough for me."

Poor visibility

Malcolm Miatt, operations manager at Teddington RNLI, said: "It was a fingertip search on a grid pattern. I wasn't sure that we'd find the medals because they have been down there all week."

RNLI's helmsman and experienced scuba diver Jean-Pierre Trenque, who led the dive, said: "It was quite dark but surprisingly we had probably half a metre visibility in there.

"I literally just went in the water, straight down the wall, we had good datum where the medals had been dropped and I didn't think they would have drifted too much."

Mr Brown, who joined the army as a volunteer in 1939, was a tank transporter and fought a rear guard defence at Dunkirk.

He was one of the last off the beach during the evacuation.




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