The collection of medals to the 41st and 69th Regiments of Foot (The Welch Regiment) formed by the late colonel Dudley Thornton, CBE

The collection of medals to the 41st and 69th Regiments of Foot (The Welch Regiment) formed by the late colonel Dudley Thornton, CBE

Colonel Dudley Edwin Thornton, CBE, ERD (1919 - 2009)

Dudley Thornton died on 22 April 2009, just a week before his 90th birthday. Born in Surrey on 1 May 1919, he was brought up and educated in Bristol before embarking on a military career. He joined the Supplementary Reserve and was commissioned into the Welch Regiment as a Second Lieutenant just before the outbreak of World War II.

After serving in the anti-invasion forces on the south coast, he was sent to East Africa in 1943 to join the 18th (Nyasaland) battalion of the King's African Rifles, and from there took part in the Burma campaign until the end of the War. Coming from a musical family helped his language skills and he learnt Chinyanja - and he played the flute which he always carried in his kitbag.

After the War he served with the Welch overseas, in Hong Kong, Singapore, Cyprus and Libya, before becoming the last Commanding Officer of the regimental depot in Cardiff and then Deputy Commander of the Welsh Brigade at Cwrt-y-Gollen, near Crickhowell.

He was awarded the CBE for his special contribution to the army of Malawi. He greatly enjoyed being back with soldiers he had fought with 20 years earlier, and commanded the army between 1965 and 1967. Colonial rule had just ended, Dr Hastings Banda was the country's first president and it was a time of change and instability. He was absorbed in this challenge. His interest in military history was also put to good use in designing many of the emblems for the new republic.

He went on to other overseas postings in Europe and the Far East before retiring in 1974 to live in Burton Lazars, Leicestershire, with his wife Joan. Throughout his life he had a strong interest in military history and assembled a small collection of medals, badges and other militaria. He never really parted company with his regiment as almost immediately on retiring from the regular army he became a trustee and chairman of the Welch Regiment Museum in Cardiff Castle and remained deeply involved with it right up to the time of his death.