The Fab Four were all awarded MBEs in 1965, though Mr Lennon returned his honour within four years. A letter he wrote to the Queen outlines his reasons for doing so. Mr Lennon said: “Your Majesty, I am returning my MBE as a protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down the charts.

“With love John Lennon of Bag.”

Two of Mr Lennon’s band members were given knighthoods.

Paul McCartney was given one in 1997, whilst Ringo Starr was awarded one last year.

The Nigerian Civil War broke out in 1967 between the federal government in Lagos (Abuja became Nigerian capital in 1991) and separatists in the southern Biafra region.

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Britain supported Nigeria as did the US, USSR, Canada, Israel (until 1968) and several other states in Africa, Asia and Europe.

Biafra was supported by France, China, West Germany, Israel (after 1968), Portugal, Spain, the Vatican, South Africa and Rhodesia amongst others.

The conflict ended in 1970 with a Nigerian victory.

A blockade resulted in the deaths of 2 million civilians to famine and some sources estimate 4.5 million people were displaced.

The origins of Medicine Sans Frontieres came about from humanitarian efforts during the conflict.

Cold Turkey was Mr Lennon’s second single not produced as a Beatle.

It was released by the Plastic Ono Band, created for Mr Lennon and wife Yoko Ono’s solo and collaborative works.

The track peaked at 14th in Britain.


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