Letter: Once honoured, always honoured

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MY grandfather died in a mining accident in 1917. In 1947 the Waterloo Colliery in Lydbrook in the Forest of Dean was flooded, and his eldest son, my Uncle Bert, volunteered to go down and rescue the men trapped by the rising and polluted waters. He did so repeatedly, and on the last occasion, I believe, the waters were no more than 6 ins beneath the pit roof. For this act he was awarded the British Empire Medal.

I always wondered why it was the BEM. Now I know from your editorial 'Word of dishonour' (7 March). 'He (John Major) has abolished the British Empire Medal, traditionally awarded to the working classes, without touching the rest of the elaborate superstructure. All this does is to convince those who presently hold the honour that it was always worthless.' The letters BEM are still on Albert Morgan's gravestone. Won in the way that it was, the medal will never be without honour. Perhaps we should abolish instead the MBE.

Gerald Morgan

Trinity College, Dublin