Veterans receive France's highest honour
Date Added: 17/03/2016
Three veterans who helped to liberate France during the Second World War have been presented with the country’s highest honour.
Richard Edward Wood and Gerald Lucas Halfacre, both from Sandy, and James Patrick Donachie, from Bedford, were presented with the insignia of Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur on Sunday (13 March) by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Colonel Colin Mason.
The presentations took place at the Sandy and District Branch of the Royal British Legion, and Col Mason was supported by Cadet Flight Sergeant Rachel Radley (CCF) Bedford Modern School, who is one of the Lord-Lieutenant’s Cadets.
The Vice Lord-Lieutenant read out the veterans’ citations and quoted from the letter they had received from the French Ambassador Sylvie Berman:
“As we contemplate this Europe of peace, we must never forget the heroes like you who came from Britain and the Commonwealth to begin the liberation of Europe by liberating France. We owe our freedom and security to your dedication, because you were ready to risk your life.”
Following the presentation of their medals the veterans each spoke about their encounters on the beaches in France in June 1944 and said they felt very honoured to be recognised by the French authorities after such a long time.
They thanked the Royal British Legion for arranging the reception for the presentation of their medals in front of their families and friends.
Col Mason added: "It was quite an event for the families, friends and me to hear three veterans in their nineties recall their experiences in Normandy on D-Day and thereafter in June 1944.
“All had lost close comrades and survived the gruelling experience of establishing the beachheads on the Normandy Coast. After the re-grouping all three went to serve on with their units or in new formations in France and further abroad.
“It was indeed a privilege to present the Legion d'Honneur medals to the veterans marking their entry into a highly distinguished order."
Photo taken by Keith Mayhew; People Press