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Family of Scottish pilot finally receive medal he was awarded 59 years ago

07 June 2019


  Hamish Dodds & Peter Van Acker

Mr Peter Van Acker, The Belgian ambassador to Tanzania, recently discovered that the embassy was still in possession of a medal awarded to Scottish-born James Dodds by the Belgian government for participation in heroic airlift flights rescuing Belgian civilians during the Congo uprising in 1960. The embassy held no information about the pilot except for his name.

But this is the digital age. Staff took to the internet and came across an obituary indicating Mr Dodds had passed away aged 92. He had not been able to collect the medal and hence it had remained at the embassy in Dar-Es-Salaam ever since. Hamish Dodds, James’s eldest son, was traced down. According to Hamish, the family was aware that James had won this medal, and why, and that he hadn’t made it to the ceremony where it was to be handed over to him.

Last month, Mr Jan Bayart, Deputy Head of Mission at the Belgian embassy in London presented the medal to Hamish Dodds as well as a letter addressed to James’s widow in which he expresses gratitude for the bravery of her late husband in the troublesome circumstances of 1960 and his dedication to his fellow man. Mr Peter Van Acker declared himself delighted to have traced down Mr Dodds’s son and wife and make sure they finally received this medal.

Hamish Dodds