Medals presented to remember a war hero

Ernie Gordon with LAC Bruce's great-grandchildren, Maddox, Kiemi and Connor Stewart. Picture courtesy of the MoD.
Ernie Gordon with LAC Bruce's great-grandchildren, Maddox, Kiemi and Connor Stewart. Picture courtesy of the MoD.

The three great-grandchildren of a Far East prisoner of war have each been presented with a special medal to honour his bravery during the Second World War.

Maddox, Kiemi and Connor Stewart attended a ceremony at RAF Boulmer to receive the namesake Jack Bruce Medal.

The presentation was in memory of Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Jack Bruce, who served in the RAF from 1941 to 1946, and died in September 2016.

The ceremony was the culmination of the tireless work of Ernie Gordon, from Alnwick, who commissioned the Far East Prisoner of War Jack Bruce Medal in his friend’s memory.

During LAC Bruce’s service career, he was awarded the 1939–45 Star – given to personnel to honour service during the Second World War – and the War Medal, which was awarded to full-time personnel of the Armed Forces wherever they were serving.

In addition to these two accolades, LAC Bruce was awarded the Pacific Star, which was given to personnel who completed service in Malaya, Singapore, China, Hong Kong or Sumatra between December 8, 1941, and September 2, 1945.

To honour his friend’s memory, Ernie embarked on a research project to chronicle Jack’s service life from the stories he was told during their time as friends.

Ernie has recorded his findings in a DVD called The Witness Who Survived.

Ernie’s research brought him to create the special medal, which he commissioned in Jack’s memory and presented to Jack’s family.

Ernie said: “I believe the medal is a fitting tribute to a great man, in every sense of the word, and it was a special privilege to present it.”

LAC Bruce’s family came from far and wide to be there to see Squadron Leader Becki Shallard present Jack’s service medals and Ernie to unveil the medal he designed in honour of his friend.

Squadron Leader Shallard presented the medal to Maddox, Kiemi and Connor Stewart.

She said: “It was a great privilege to present these medals to LAC Bruce’s great-grandchildren.

“It was especially pertinent that I was able to do it this year; the 100th birthday of the RAF.”

As the RAF anniversary draws to a close, RAF Boulmer has been reflecting on all that it and the RAF has achieved.

The RAF’s centenary provided a unique opportunity to commemorate the service and sacrifice of those who had gone before and an RAF Boulmer spokesman said that LAC Bruce was one of those people whose strength and resilience provides a benchmark for the servicemen and women who have followed.