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Royals pay tribute to Victoria Cross and George Cross heroes


September 9, 2008
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Among those invited to a royal reception at St James's Palace in London were Lance-Corporal Johnson Beharry, decorated for twice saving members of his unit from ambushes in Iraq four years ago, and Margaret Purves, who rescued a boy scout and his leader from the sea aged 14 in 1949.

Also among the day's heroes were Henry Flintoff, who at the age of 13 rescued a farmer from a bull in 1944, and Dr Dick Butson, honoured for a 1947 Antarctic rescue operation.

Despite their courage some of Prince Charles' guests apparently find being in the spotlight at the biennial event a little nervewracking, though.

Arriving with Corporal Willie Apiata VC, a New Zealand SAS man recently recognised for rescuing a comrade under fire in Afghanistan, 29-year-old Johnson joked: "It's good to have a new boy so he can take some of the pressure off me."

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Photo: © Alphapress.com
Charles and Camilla presided over a meeting of VC and GC holders at the reception at St James's Palace Photo: © PA
Photo: © Alphapress.com
The elite group's former "new boy", Johnson, jokes he's happy to hand over the title to Corporal Willie Apiata (left), who was awarded a VC recently Photo: © Rex

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