Victoria Cross hero is a Doncaster first
It was a big day for a Doncaster museum, as the biggest war hero to visit the town in a generation popped in.
Keith Payne, an Australian Victoria Cross winning hero of the Vietnam war, was guest of honour at the Victoria Cross Museum in Balby - becoming the first recipient of the medal to visit.
Warrant Officer Payne, aged 83, joined the saw service in the Korean war, and Malasia, before he was sent to Vietnam in 1969.
In May that year his battalion was attacked North Vietnamese forces.
He was wounded in the hands and arms and under heavy fire, covered the withdrawal before organising his troops into a defensive perimeter. He then spent three hours scouring the scene of the day’s fight for isolated and wounded soldiers, all the while evading enemy troops, who kept shooting. He was awarded the medal by the Queen in 1970
He found some 40 wounded men, brought some in himself and organised for the rescue of the others, leading the party back to base through enemy-dominated terrain.
Gary Stapleton, chairman of the Victorian Cross Trust which runs the museum, was delighted to meet Mr Payne, one of only 10 living winners of the medal that the museum commemorates, and a patron of he museum.
His story is one of those featured in the exhibits in the venue, housed in a former primary school on Cedar Road, Balby, and run by volunteers.
Mr Stapleton said: “Our volunteers were ecstatic. They were over the moon to meet him face to face.
“I think its fair to say that for most of them it was the first time that they had met someone who features in the museum.
“He thought it was great that the museum was in Doncaster, as its easy to get to, and he was quite moved by the amount of work done by the volunteers and the fact that we are doing here is being done without money.”
Mr Payne lives in Australia and made his visit to the museum in Doncaster during a visit to Britain for a medal winners reunion.