A representative of the Dutch government was among well wishers marking the 100th birthday yesterday of World War Two hero Don Mason.
Much decorated pilot Mr Mason’s service included Operation Market Garden, fought in the Netherlands in September 1944.
Among the letters to mark his centenary was one from the Dutch ambassador to the UK Karel van Oosterom, who also phoned him at the care home in Thurso where he lives.
Members of Mr Mason’s family meanwhile were able to come to Pentland View and greet him from outside a window.
A native of Worcestershire, he moved to the far north in the 1980s though his link with the area began near the start of the war when he flew Blenheims out of Wick in 1940.
Mr Mason flew 126 missions during the war as a pilot and subsequently as a navigator after being wounded.
His record included dropping secret agents and supplies into France to support members of the resistance and dropping paratroopers and equipment during the D-Day landings.
Mr Mason is the holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Distinguished Service Order. Two years ago, he received the British Empire Medal.
Mr van Oosterom became aware of Mr Mason’s service some time ago and was keen to mark yesterday’s 100th birthday milestone.
In his letter, he said: “As an RAF pilot flying Stirling Bombers, Blenheims and MK-IV Troop Carriers, and later on re-commissioned as wireless operator and air gunner, the operations 1, 2 and 4 logged in your service record were of particular importance for the people of the Netherlands.
“These operations involved targeting Dutch soil and waters in 1940, and Operation Market Garden.
“All the other missions that took you and your crewmates over Germany, France and Norway were just as crucial towards peace and freedom for the Netherlands, as it fought off the aggressor Germany.”
Mr van Oosterom thanked Mr Mason on behalf of the Dutch people, adding: “we are forever grateful for your actions, and courage.”
Don Mason’s 100th birthday: Family window visit
Up until recently, Mr Mason gave presentation on his war experiences to local schools and organisations.
Mr Mason’s family, including son Robert, were unable to see him in the home because of coronavirus restrictions.
But some did manage a “window visit” to Mr Mason, who later enjoyed a special birthday lunch to celebrate his 100th birthday.