Some time ago Colonel James I R Phillips, the British Defense Attaché for The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg sent me a letter.
‘Dear Mr van der Linden,
I have been asked bij the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to inform you in strict confidence that he proposes to submit your name to HM The Queen to receive an honorary British Empire Medal (BEM). This honour would be in recognition of your services to the County of Kent and the Royal Navy.
In the meantime. I should be grateful if you could keep the details of this proposal award in strict confidence – it can’t be made public until The Queen has given her formal approval for your award.’
A few days ago the Embassy sent the message: ‘The Queen has approved’.
I really did not know what to say, what to write. My first reaction was: ’This cannot be true’. But it is. And since I have had some time for reflection, I say:
This BEM is for you all. At this moment I have been now for 12 years, on behalf of you, the representative of all the men on the three cruisers. HMS Aboukir, HMS Cressy, HMS Hogue. The men who never have been recognised, always have been neglected and simply seemed to have been forgotten.
With the support of good friends in the UK and in The Netherlands I succeeded in making the relevant authorities aware of their existance and the sufferings of their families, after their being ‘lost at sea’.‘
The event on 22 September 2014 healed a lot of the since long lasting wounds. This recognition may be the ultimate healing.
Friday 17 March 11.00 AM, I am expected at the British Embassy.
My kindest regards, with great joy,
Henk van der Linden
Chairman ‘The Live Bait Squadron Society’.