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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 December, 2003, 12:39 GMT
Medal for 'forgotten' soldier
Glyndwr Collins
Glyndwr Collins, he is one of three people will receive the special award

Recognition for a 'forgotten fleet' and a Welsh serviceman's war effort is taking place half a century after the conflict ended.

Glyndwr Collins, who fought in the World War II liberation of the Philippines, is being awarded with a special honour by the country's ambassador.

The Aberfan ex-communications serviceman is one of just three people in the UK who are being presented with the Philippine Liberation and Medal.

A bullet whether it's Japanese or German will kill you just as dead - it didn't bother us at all we were a ship's company, a big family and we got on with the job
Glyndwr Collins

The ceremony is taking place at the Welsh assembly instead of London because of Mr Collins cannot travel due to ill-health.

Filipino ambassador His Excellency Mr Edgardo B Espiritu will present the medal.

"I feel very proud, I shall also think of my old shipmates who were with me, crossed the bar since or are no longer with us, I feel sure if they could see me there they would be as pleased as I am," said Mr Collins.

As a young officer in communications, Mr Collins saw action on board the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious in the Pacific ocean.

Glyndwr Collins
Glyndwr Collins said he will be thinking of his old shipmates

But his service - and those of his fellow men - was partly ignored by people back home.

"People in Europe tended to think of us out there, we were known as the 'forgotten fleet' when we invaded for D-Day we were known locally as the D-Day dodgers," he said.

"As we got older we are no longer the D-Day dodgers, we are the coffin dodgers.

"A bullet whether it's Japanese or German will kill you just as dead - it didn't bother us at all we were a ship's company, a big family and we got on with the job."

The distraction role of HMS Illustrious helped to liberate the Philippines.

"The role of the British Pacific fleet was to keep the enemy occupied," said Mr Collins.

"The fact we were in that area for quite some time was certainly a back-up for the Philippine fighters.

"I must say about the Philippines, they took a terrible hammering with the Japanese.

"Manila was devastated - a second Warsaw," he said.

"The action we saw as an aircraft carrier was being attacked by enemy planes, we were attacked by what you call the divine wind - the kamikaze."

Communication problem

Although the war veteran was involved in Communications, his Welsh accent was not always understood.

"Being Welsh and being a boy, one fellow officer could not understand what I say so whenever we went into action he would switch all the channels from my phone to his own so I just sat and looked around at what was going on."

The medal is being awarded to members of the armed services who took part in the liberation between October 1944 and September 1956.

Family and friends will witness the award ceremony which is also being attended by assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan, Lord Elis Thomas as well as representatives from several associations.

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