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Son nets medal that modest hero never claimed.

The son of a modest Second World War fighter ace has finally claimed his father's gallantry medal - 27 years after his death.

Spitfire pilot Flt Lt Peter Cannam rarely spoke of his part in inflicting heavy losses on Axis forces during action over Italy in April 1945.

After the war he settled to a quiet life as an optician in Gloucester and never bothered to collect the American Distinguished Flying Cross awarded to him for helping to reduce American Fifth Army casualties during the Allied drive on Bologna.

The RAF pilot, later promoted to Squadron Leader, died in 1972 aged 55, never having seen the medal and citation conferred by President Truman in 1946.

Now, after a long quest, his son Richard, a 42-year-old motor engineer, has finally obtained the medal, using the Internet to contact the Pentagon.

"My father never really spoke about his war although my mother knew he had been awarded the medal," said Mr Cannam, of Nailsworth, Gloucestershire.

"About four years ago I decided to do something about it. I wrote to my MP and tried all the normal channels but I wasn't getting anywhere.

"Then, at Christmas I was playing around on the Internet. I e-mailed the White House and the Pentagon and about a month ago the Pentagon e-mailed me back. They sent me the medal with a big certificate and a letter. The medal looks like it has been kept in storage since the end of the war."

Mr Cannam had to send a copy of the letter confirming the award and his father's logbook.

The proud son, whose mother, Thelma, aged 72, lives in Gloucester, said: "I'm extremely pleased that it has paid off and we have the medal at last. My mother is also delighted. It is something that I will be able to hand down to my daughter."
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 6, 1999
Words:308
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