Published: 11/11/2010 00:00 - Updated: 24/11/2011 12:00

Belated honour for Bomber Command veteran

Alexander Sutherland shows off his wartime medals.
Alexander Sutherland shows off his wartime medals.

A VETERAN of Bomber Command is to be presented with a commemorative medal at a service on Remembrance Sunday.

Alexander Sutherland, who was honoured with the MBE last year for his services to swimming in Inverness, served as a navigator and radio operator on missions over Germany towards the end of World War II.

But the controversy surrounding the bombing of Dresden in February 1945 meant campaign medals for Bomber Command were never struck by the British Government.

Mr Sutherland's son Graham, a teacher in Edinburgh, told the Highland News: "It was considered insensitive to strike a campaign medal because of the loss of civilian life from the attack on Dresden.

"But in 1984 the widow of Air Marshall Arthur (Bomber) Harris instigated a commemorative medal to recognise the role of members of Bomber Command in the Second World War."

Alex has never had any recognition of his role as a flight sergeant in Lancaster bombers.

In civilian life he worked at Inverness library and spent many years as a council rent collector.

But it was for his involvement in swimming that Alex was presented with an MBE last year by the Queen at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

He helped start Inverness Swimming Club in 1937 and only gave up as a coach earlier this year due to failing health.

He flew in more than 10 missions over Germany in the last few months of the war.

He said: "A lot of people disagreed with this type of bombing but it was necessary. I trained in a Gypsy Moth but didn't qualify as a pilot. That probably saved my life.

"Our whole crew survived the war and I am still in touch with our rear gunner Denzil Smith from Swansea who was a great athlete and keen swimmer like myself," he said.

Alex will be presented with his Bomber Command medal at a service in the Methodist Church in Inverness on Sunday, in the presence of family and friends including his wife Rhoda.

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