On the 70th anniversary of D-Day in June 2014, the French President announced that the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, would be awarded to all British veterans who fought for the liberation of France during the Second World War, specifically, veterans who had taken part in military operations in France between 1944 and 1945.
On Sunday 21st February, the Museum was honoured to play host to the award ceremony for 12 British Army, Navy and Air Force, D-Day veterans. These men, who all played a significant part in the fighting following D Day, were awarded the Legion d’Honneur by the France’s highest ranking officer in Britain – Admiral Patrick Chevallereu and the French Air Attaché Colonel Patrice Morand.
Standing left to right:
Wireman Geoffrey Noble; LAC Robert Hall; Able Seaman William Cutler;Sergeant (Royal Artillery) Peter English; Lieutenant (Queens Royal Regiment) Dennis Anderson; Wing Commander (RAF) Hugh Lorimer; Private (7th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders) Geoffrey Lawrence.
Seated left to right:
Able Seaman Jack Holstead; Able Seaman Austin Byrne; Ordinary Seaman (Merchant Navy) Kenneth Wrighton; Private (4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment) Jack Pritchard and Sapper (1053 port Maintenance Company Royal Engineers) George Inman.
Timothy Kirkhope MEP ; Museum Director Ian Reed; Commodore Gary Doyle RN Northern England Regional Commander; Contre Amiral Patrick Chevallereau French Defence Attaché; Brigadier Nigel Wood Deputy Lord Lieutenant North Yorkshire; Colonel Patrice Morand French Air Attaché; Wing Commander Rupert Joel RAF Linton on Ouse; Wing Commander Stuart Clarke RAF Leeming and on far right Mr. Jeremy Burton French Consul.
The event was supported by over 200 family and friends plus senior representatives from today’s British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
Museum Director, Ian Reed, said, “Because of its unique French Connection, the Museum/Memorial is delighted to continue to host these very special occasions. These wonderful gentlemen are a reminder to us all how the world stood on the brink of disaster 70 years ago, and it was to the courage and devotion of these people that we owe our safety and prosperity today.”
The Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, is France’s top accolade for an elite group of people who distinguish themselves through civilian or military valour. The full title is “Chevalier” which is of course a knighthood, so it is France’s highest award. It was initiated by the then First Consul of the French Republic, Napoleon Bonaparte, in 1802.