A LOCAL historian has received a prestigious Japanese commendation after creating a memorial in honour of the 210 people who lost their lives when a Japanese merchant vessel sank after being torpedoed by a German U-boat during the First World War.

The memorial to those on board the Hirano Maru was unveiled last year in Angle churchyard at a ceremony at which HRH The Duke of Gloucester was in attendance.

David James, 81, secretary of West Wales Maritime Heritage Society received the Japanese Ambassador’s Commendation at a special ceremony and reception held at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in London on December 6.

Mr James also initiated the idea of returning Admiral Togo’s Ginkgo trees, grown by local people in Pembrokeshire to Japan.

About 30 Ginkgo trees have been cultivated in the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

They are now fully grown and large enough to transport to Japan.

The project is being supported by volunteers in Japan, including private citizens and officials of the various destinations receiving trees which include cities which have, or used to have military ports, such as Kure, Maizuru, Sasebo and Yokosuka, the cities of Kagoshima and Chiyodaku, and the Togo Shrine.

The trees will be transported all the way from Wales to Hiroshima Botanical Garden.