World War Two veterans honoured by France

Photos: Robbie Hodgson

Known properly as the National Order of the Legion of Honour, Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, it is a French Order established by Napoleon Bonaparte on 19 May 1802 and is the highest decoration in France.

The veterans who received their medal of honour at Thiepval Barracks this week

The veterans who received their medal of honour at Thiepval Barracks this week

The Honorary Consul said she was privileged to be in Lisburn to present the veterans from the Army, Navy and RAF, with the French Honour to thank them for their service in liberating France from Nazi occupation over seventy years ago.

Amongst the fifteen veterans who were in attendance on Tuesday (February 16) were Lisburn veterans Frederick Jennings (RAF) and WIlliam Eames (RAF).

The family of Henry Francis from Finaghy, who sadly passed away just last year, also attended the ceremony to accept the medal on behalf of their father.

William Eames from Lisburn was a Flight Lieutenant with 570 Squadron Royal Air Force flying as an Air Bomber in Albemarle Aircraft delivering 6th Airborne Division troops by glider near the Orne Canal in the early hours of D Day. Following this he flew on six night supply drops to various parts of France.

RAF Veterans who were awarded the Legion D'Honneur at a ceremony in Thiepval Barracks

RAF Veterans who were awarded the Legion D'Honneur at a ceremony in Thiepval Barracks

It was an extra special day for Frederick Jennings, who also served with the RAF. Not only did he recedive the honour from the French Consul, he was also celebrating his 92nd birthday.

Frederick, who is an active and passionate member of the Ulster Aviation Society, which is based at the Maze, served as a Radar Technician with 320 (Netherlands) Squadron Royal Air Force operating over France prior to and subsequent to the D Day landings.

“I think this is all rather nice,” he said. “And it’s my birthday too, just by coincidence.”

The family of Finaghy man Henry Francis also attended the ceremony and were delighted to be able to accept the medal on his behalf.

Henry was a Corporal with the Royal Army Service Corps. He landed on D Day at Arromanches Beaches supplying the Army as its way was fought through to Caen and onto Berlin.

Henry’s son John, accepted the medal in memory of his father. “I felt very proud,” he said. “It was a bit emotional and I was very nervous but it was important to do it.”

Henry’s daughters Sharon Mitchell and Colleen Wright also attended the presentation at Thiepval.

“He waited so long to receive this medal,” said Sharon. “He would have loved it. He was never short of a word or two and I know he would have been making jokes with the 
French Consul.”