A PIONEERING war veteran has finally been presented with a medal honouring her service to the country – just 73 years after it was awarded.

The Second World War was raging when, in 1942, 19-year-old Vera Clachers, nee Kendrew, joined the RAF and became one of its first serving female electrical engineers.

Throughout the latter stage of the war and until 1949, the Darlington-born woman worked on aircraft including Lancaster bombers, serving at RAF North Coates and near Cologne in Germany, where she dissembled aircraft and carried administrative duties.

Following the end of the war, Mrs Clachers was recognised for her efforts with the awarding of the War Medal, a campaign medal given to subjects of the British Commonwealth who had served full-time in the forces or Navy for at least 28 days between September 1939 and September 1945.

However, like many veterans of the era, she “simply forgot about it” and carried on with her life without applying to receive it.

Last week, the now 95-year-old was thrilled to be presented with her long overdue medal at a surprise ceremony in Edinburgh.

She received it from 17-year-old Air Cadet Samantha Terry, from the 870 (Dreghorn) Squadron, who handed it over with the support of two other Second World War veterans, Arthur Reid and Alastair Lamb.

Mrs Clachers’ daughter, Lorraine MacLeod, was also at the ceremony, which took place as part of an annual reception hosted by the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

The fund’s chief executive, Air Vice-Marshal David Murray read a citation before the young cadet presented Mrs Clachers with the accolade.

Mrs Clachers said it was an “honour and a complete surprise” to have received the medal, adding: “After all, I was just doing my duty.

“I’m still very proud to have passed out as a Leading Aircraft Women and to have served as one of the first female electrical engineers.”

Air Vice-Marshal Murray said: “It was an absolute honour to be able to present Vera with her medal – an honour which was richly deserved even though it was decades late. Vera’s humility is common among her generation of brave men and women who quietly answered their country’s call and did their duty without a second thought to the personal cost.”

He added: “This is why I am proud to lead a charity which ensures that that debt to society is repaid.

“The RAF Benevolent Fund has stood side by side with RAF personnel, past and present, for almost 100 years, ensuring whenever they face hardship or suffering we are there with them.”