The impressive surroundings of The Wing at the Battle of Britain Memorial proved an appropriate backdrop for a ceremony in which seven veterans of the Normandy landings received France’s top military honour.
While the visitor centre’s main role is to highlight the enormous sacrifices made by ‘the Few’, the heroes of the Battle of Britain, the Trust was delighted to welcome seven equally brave servicemen from other branches of the Armed Forces.
The seven veterans were given the rank of Chevalier within the Légion d’honneur and had their medals presented to them by James Ryeland, Honorary Consul for France at Dover in a moving ceremony attended by close family members.
Recipients included a former sister with the Imperial Military Nursing Service, a Lancaster navigator, a naval gunner and a Platoon Sergeant with the Royal Army Service Corps.
The ceremony is the result of an announcement made by French Président François Hollande on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day in June 2014, when he declared that all British veterans who fought for the liberation of France during the Second World War would be appointed to the Ordre National de la Légion d’honneur.
Eligible servicemen and women took part in military operations in France between 1944 and 1945, and are now in their nineties. Although the Honorary Consul presented around 25 veterans with the award in 2016, this was the first time the Battle of Britain Memorial – home to the National Memorial to the Few – had been used as the venue.
The recipients –
Joan PRICE – Gillingham
Sister, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service
Kenneth Albert DRURY – Sittingbourne
RAF Pilot officer, retired squadron leader, navigator on Lancaster bomber
Edward Cecil SNOW – Staple
Steward & Bofors gunner, Merchant Navy
William Richard JACOBS – Kennington
AB Seaman, Royal Navy on motor launch 140, mine sweeping
William Ernest Alfred ADAMS – Maidstone
AB Seaman, Royal Navy, HMS Pelican, anti-submarine operations
Gordon Frank HOLLAND – Sittingbourne
Platoon Sergeant Royal Army Service Corps
David Herbert Henry NORRIS – Dover
Greaser, Merchant Navy.