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Granddaughter surprises Brighton war veteran with medals for 90th birthday
A Second World War hero who never collected his medals has finally received them as a 90th birthday present from his granddaughter.
James Wolstencroft served on battleship HMS Malaya protecting the Atlantic supply route during the final years of the war.
But the “humble” Brighton great-granddad never thought of applying for his three service medals.
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Granddaughter Kate Johnson, 37, said: “He was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so I thought it would be a good time to speak to him about the war and do a bit of research.
“I discovered he never received his medals. He is a very modest man. He told me it just wasn’t something he really thought about doing. So with his 90th birthday coming up I thought it would be a good time to see if I could finally get them.”
Mrs Johnson got in touch with an RAF friend and sent off his release papers and assessment forms. In time for his February birthday, she received his three medals: The War Medal, The Star and The Atlantic Star.
She said: “I’m absolutely delighted. His memory is fading so I really wanted to get them sooner rather than later. He is an incredible man and I thought it was only right that he finally received his medals.”
James, or Jimmy as he is known to his friends, was born in Manchester in 1924.
He moved down to Sussex after joining up in 1942 and was stationed at Eastbourne.
It was there that he met his wife, Joy, now 89, who he married just years later.
But before he could enjoy married life he was assigned to the battleship HMS Malaya.
The 33,000-ton ship was sent to patrol the treacherous Atlantic Ocean to protect vital supply routes. Mr Wolstencroft, who had trained with torpedoes and electrics, had the job of maintaining and repairing the equipment.
Following the war, he settled in Sussex with his new wife and ended up in Oakdean Rise in Portslade. They started a family and now have two children, three grandchildren and a great grandchild.
Mrs Johnson added: “They got married during the war and spent their first night down the air raid shelter. They are great together.
“It’s something of a double celebration this year, not only is it his 90th but it is also their 70th wedding anniversary in May.”