‘The honour of our lives’ to march for late Queen, say VC recipients

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The VC and GC Association said 17 of the 23 living recipients will attend the service, including one from New Zealand and four from Australia. Seven will be involved in the procession of the orders of chivalry, including Colour Sergeant Johnson Beharry VC, who was awarded Britain’s highest military honour for twice saving colleagues while under fire in Iraq.

C/Sgt Beharry, 43, of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, said: “I am deeply saddened at the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

“She was an extraordinary role model and an inspiration to many.

“In every engagement I had with her she showed great compassion, humility and pure warmth.

“I feel very humble and honoured and fortunate to be included in her funeral procession.”

The VC is the highest decoration of military valour in the honours system. The GC is the highest nonoperational gallantry award.

Those representing the George Cross are Jim Beaton, Tony Gledhill and Major Peter Norton.

Mr Beaton, 79, was awarded the George Cross for helping to foil a gunman’s attempted kidnap of Princess Anne in 1974.

He was shot three times protecting the late monarch’s daughter. Mr Beaton said: “It was a privilege to work for Her Majesty. I have many very fond memories.”

Mr Gledhill, 84, is a former police officer who received the GC in May 1967 for an act of bravery pursuing a recklessly driven car containing five armed criminals in Deptford.

He said: “I’m a royalist so it will be an honour to be involved in the procession.”

Queen Beharry

Major Norton, 59, chairman of the VC and GC Association, said: “Queen Elizabeth II was the boss and I enjoyed every single year in her service.

“Being awarded the George Cross was the greatest of honours and it was a privilege and joy to have met her.”

Major Norton was given the honour in 2006 after checking for an improvised explosive device near Baghdad, leading to the loss of his left leg and severe injuries to his right, back, abdomen and arm.

Bill (Willie) Apiata VC, 50, will represent the Victoria Cross for New Zealand on Monday and walk alongside Mark Donaldson VC, 43, from Australia. Keith Payne VC, 89, is also representing Australia.

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