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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 September 2006, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
War hero launches bravery stamps
John Cruickshank with the new stamps
Veteran John Cruickshank helped to launch the stamps
A Scottish war hero has launched a set of stamps to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross.

Flight Lieutenant John Cruickshank is the only living Scottish holder of the bravery award.

The 86-year-old, from Aberdeen, unveiled the Royal Mail stamps at the Gordon Highlanders Museum in the city.

The Victoria Cross is the highest recognition for valour that can be awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth Armed Forces.

Mr Cruickshank said: "I am delighted that Royal Mail has decided to mark the 150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross with these wonderful stamps.

"It is right that the men on these stamps and their remarkable actions are commemorated and celebrated.

"This is an honour for me and I am glad I have been able to help."

Lost consciousness

Flt Lt Cruickshank was an RAF flying officer during the Second World War when he earned the cross during an attack on a German U-boat.

The veteran was piloting a Consolidated Catalina flying boat as part of an anti-submarine patrol.

Flt Lt Cruickshank, who was 24 at the time, was attacking the vessel when a flak shell burst inside the aircraft.

New stamps
The new stamp collection celebrates the Victoria Cross

One member of the crew was killed and two were wounded, and although he too had been hit, Flt Lt Cruickshank attacked again, and managed to sink the U-boat.

On the five-hour return journey he lost consciousness several times, but insisted on helping to land the Catalina.

It was later found that he had two serious wounds to his lungs and 10 penetrating wounds to his lower limbs.

Flt Lt Cruickshank recovered but did not return to flying command, leaving the RAF in September 1946.

The six stamps he unveiled each depict a tale of courage, ranging from the Crimean War, when the medal was first awarded, to the 1939-45 war.

Flt Lt Cruickshank is the last surviving VC holder for air action in WWII.

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