WW2 veterans receive Legion d’Honneur in Rotherham

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TWO Yorkshire veterans from World War II have been awarded France’s highest military honour for their service during D-Day in 1944.

Garry Ardron, 92, and Frank Thorpe, 91, were presented with the Legion d’Honneur medal by the Honorary Consul for France, Jeremy Burton, at a special ceremony at Rotherham Town Hall, hosted by the town’s mayor, Coun Maggi Clark.

Frank Thorpe and Gary Ardron receive the Legion DHonneur medal

Frank Thorpe and Gary Ardron receive the Legion DHonneur medal

Mr Ardron, from Swinton, Rotherham, was a Leading Stoker in the Royal Navy. He served on HMS Argonaut providing gunfire support to the Normandy beaches.

He said: “It’s a great honour, I’ve never been honoured so much in my life. It was beautiful – I’ve never experienced anything like it, I really enjoyed it.

“It wasn’t ‘poshy-poshy’, it was all common talk. All the dignitaries were really nice.”

He recalled his ship firing more than 4,000 shells on a single day as the Allies launched their invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe.

Mr Thorpe, from Bramley, Rotherham, was an Electric Wireman, Royal Navy, who served on landing ship Tank 366. He landed at 7.30am on D-Day and made a further 20 trips, taking troops and supplies to the beachhead and evacuating the wounded and prisoners.

The Legion d’Honneur is the highest French order for military and civil merits and was established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte.

Following the 70th anniversary of D-Day in 2014, French President François Hollande pledged to honour all those British veterans who had served in his country during the war.

A number of similar ceremonies have since taken place including in February, when France’s highest military honour was awarded to 12 World War II veterans, all in their 90s, from across Yorkshire at a ceremony held at Yorkshire Air Museum in Elvington, York.