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WWII hero Gerald Hudson who kept planes in sky and was 'too busy' for medals


Gerald Hudson with former North Down mayor Peter Martin

Gerald Hudson with former North Down mayor Peter Martin

Gerald Hudson during his days in the RAF

Gerald Hudson during his days in the RAF

Gerald Hudson with former North Down mayor Peter Martin

War hero and Bangor resident Gerald Hudson has passed away just two years after he was finally presented with his Second World War service medal.

Gerald was 90 when the ceremony took place, some 69 years after the 1939-1945 conflict drew to a close.

When asked at the time why he didn't apply for his medals after the war, he replied that he was "busy".

Gerald, originally from Irvinestown in Co Fermanagh, followed his brothers into the RAF as soon as he was old enough and served until the cessation of hostilities in 1945.

His brother, Gilmore, flew leading Nazi Rudolf Hess from Scotland to London for interrogation.

He once told Gerald: "Hess spoke quite good English but didn't say much. My main memory of him is that he just sat and stared all the time and seemed very preoccupied.

"I suppose that he was worried about what would happen to him."

Hess served as Deputy Fuhrer to Adolf Hitler from 1933 until 1941, when he flew solo to Scotland in a failed attempt to negotiate peace with Britain.

He was eventually convicted of war crimes at the Nuremberg trials and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Hess died at Spandau prison in West Berlin in 1987.

Always mechanically minded, Gerald, a father-of-two, served as part of ground crew in 13 different airfields and stations across southern England and Wales, carrying out the critically important work of keeping the planes in the air.

As one veteran put it: "Without the skill of those in the ground crews there would have been no bomber or fighter command to send into the air."

In an emotional ceremony at his nursing home, Ailsa Lodge in Carnalea, Bangor, Gerald was presented with his War Medal by serving Wing Commander Mike Cairns, who said: "It was an honour to meet Gerald, an absolute gentleman.

"I feel very privileged both to have met him and to have presented him with his medal."

Also in attendance that day were representatives from the RAF Association, the British Legion and the Irish Guards, including the regimental mascot, Domhnall, an Irish wolfhound.

Speaking after the presentation, the then Mayor of North Down, Peter Martin, said: "It was such a privilege for me to meet Gerald today. I can't believe he is receiving his medal 69 years after the war.

"I had a long chat with him and he is a gentleman in the true sense of the word. We owe such a debt of gratitude to his generation. Meeting Gerald has been a humbling experience."

Gerald's daughter, Gillian, who applied to the Ministry of Defence for her father's medals and organised the presentation ceremony, described the day as "very emotional".

She said: "I cannot express enough my gratitude to the RAF Association, the British Legion Wing Commander Cairns, the Mayor Peter Martin, the Irish Guards and of course Domhnall the dog.

"Nothing was too much trouble for them and as always the staff at Ailsa Lodge did a superb job. I just wish that my mother Betty had been there to see it."

After the war, Gerald managed an engineering company but was best known in north Down from the era when he owned Adelboden Lodge restaurant near Groomsport, a business that he ran for many years.

When not working at Adelboden, the prominent Rotarian worked tirelessly for the RAF Association and the British Legion.

He also still found time to travel all over the province as a member of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

As a real people person, the Second World War veteran was at his happiest when he was helping others.

Belfast Telegraph