Haltwhistle soldier honoured 50 years after his death

Eric Armstrong.
Eric Armstrong.

THE family of a soldier from Haltwhistle, who was killed in Aden in 1966, has finally received the medals which honour his service.

Eric Armstrong was just 22 when he was fatally shot during a “friendly fire” incident in Aden.

But it’s taken more than 50 years for his brother Terry and sister Mary to receive the General Service Medal and Elizabeth Cross in recognition of his service.

The former Royal Army Ordinance Corps soldier was remembered during a ceremony in the mayor’s parlour at Sunderland Civic Centre on Tuesday, during which Eric’s family and childhood friend Ian Sanderson Hall, were greeted by the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Susan Winfield.

Ian, who worked alongside Eric in the former Brough’s foodstore in Haltwhistle as a youngster, said: “I joined the Scots Guards as a junior guardsman, based in Pirbright, Surrey.

“I was on my way to the cinema one night when I heard someone calling my name. It was Eric; he had joined the RAOC as an adult soldier in Blackdown, the next camp to mine.”

The pair met regularly after that and Eric would have been Ian’s best man when he married in 1967.

But, tragically, Ian was in Canada when he received the news of Eric’s death.

“He’s buried in Death Valley in Aden, which they call Silent Valley now,” explained Ian, who now lives in Whitburn in South Tyneside.

“I visited Haltwhistle last year and discovered Eric’s name is not on the war memorial

“I then helped Terry apply for the medals and spoke to Coun. Ian Hutchinson about getting Eric’s name put on the memorial.”

Coun. Hutchinson, county councillor for Haltwhistle, said he was investigating how to have Eric’s name added.

“This man died in tragic circumstances while serving his country and doing his duty and should be remembered for his sacrifice.”

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