On 13 December WWII Veteran Henry ‘Harry’ Rawlins was presented with the Liberators Thank You Medal at a ceremony at the Netherlands Embassy.
On 13 December, Chelsea Pensioner Harry Rawlins, 97, made the short journey from The Royal Hospital Chelsea to the Netherlands Embassy in South Kensington, where he was presented with the Liberators Thank You Medal by Ambassador Karel van Oosterom.
Celebrating with him were a small group of his fellow Chelsea Pensioners from The Royal Hospital and volunteers representing the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans who work with the Dutch authorities to ensure that WWII veterans who participated in military campaigns in the Netherlands receive this important medal to recognise the part they played in the liberation of the Netherlands.
The certificate which was presented with the Liberators Thank You medal said, ‘The people of the Kingdom of the Netherlands will forever remain grateful and will never forget the brave men and women who took part in the liberation of the Netherlands.’
During WWII, Corporal Harry Rawlins served with The Kings Royal Rifle Corps and participated in Operation Market Garden between 17 and 25 September 1944. Harry’s unit was part of 8th Armoured Brigade, which advanced through Belgium and into The Netherlands.
Navy Captain Gerrit Nijenhuis, Defence and Naval Attaché of the Netherlands to the United Kingdom said, “We were honored and privileged to meet Harry and present him with the Thank You Liberators Medal. This medal is a sincere token of gratitude towards the veterans who served in the Netherlands during WWII and helped to liberate our country. Harry is a very modest, gentle and humble man and it is hard to imagine what he and his mates went through and I can only imagine the hardship and suffering those on the ground endured during the war.
“After four and half year’s occupation, Operation Market Garden most importantly gave the Dutch people, HOPE and COURAGE. Courage to resist the NAZI’s where possible and fight through the terrible hunger-winter of 1945 and hope to be free again one day. It is for this we are so grateful and the veterans deserve our greatest respect. Many of the allied soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and we must never forget them.
Dave Hemstead, London Cab driver and volunteer for the Taxi Charity said, “It was an honour to represent the Taxi Charity at the Embassy and witness Harry being presented with this important medal which I know he will wear with pride.”
Harry’s service during WWII has also been recognised by other European countries and he received the Legion D’honneur France’s highest order of merit in 2015 and the Croix de Guerre with Palm from Belgium in 1945.
To find out more about the support the Taxi Charity offers to veterans or to donate visit www.taxicharity.org
To find out more about the Royal Hospital Chelsea and the support it offers to older veterans or to donate visit www.chelsea-pensioners.org.uk
About the Thank You Liberators Medal
Introduced in the year 2000, The ‘Thank you Liberators’ medal is not classified as an official Netherlands decoration, but it is a sincere token of gratitude towards the veterans who served in the Netherlands during WWII and helped to liberate the country.
About the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans
The Taxi Charity is run by volunteer London black taxi drivers and has been supporting thousands of veterans of all ages since 1948. The charity arranges free trips to the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, for acts of commemoration and days out to museums, concerts, or fundraising events across the UK, to catch up with friends and comrades.
The charity was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in June 2021.
In 2023 the charity will be celebrating its 75th anniversary.
To fund and facilitate their work, the charity is reliant on donations, grants and sponsorship.