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UK vet dies 68 years after "posthumous" honor

Associated Press - December 30, 2008 1:13 PM ET

LONDON (AP) - A British World War II hero has died 68 years after he was "posthumously" awarded the nation's highest combat honor.

Eric Wilson had been the oldest living holder of the Victoria Cross. He was 96.

He was commanding a Camel Corps company when Italian forces attacked his position in what was then British Somaliland. Italy had declared war just the day before.

In 1940, Wilson was reported killed. His family was told that he had died in combat while staying with his machine gun, inflicting "heavy casualties" despite being sick and severely wounded. The Victoria Cross was awarded two months later.

Wilson was found alive the next year, trying to tunnel his way out of a prison camp. He went on to more service in Africa and Burma.

Two years ago, he commented: "'What is bravery? I don't know. You just did what you had to do."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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