Joseph Murphy, Normandy veteran

Joseph Murphy
Joseph Murphy
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Joseph Murphy, who has died at 99, was a former paratrooper from Leeds who in later life received the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest award for bravery, for his role in the Normandy Landings.

He had attended the presentation ceremony in 2015 after being told by friends and family members that he was being taken for a day out at the Yorkshire Air Museum in Elvington, York. On arrival, he realised he had been duped.

“He thought he was just being brought along to have a look at some of the exhibits. We have an original 1944 Douglas C-47 Dakota, which has a long association with the Parachute Regiment,” the museum director, Ian Reed, said at the time.

“When he found out what was happening, he was overwhelmed. He’s a stoic Yorkshireman but there were a lot of tears.”

The French government had announced the previous year that it wanted to recognise all surviving veterans of the Normandy landings, and of the wider campaigns to liberate France in 1944, by presenting them with the Légion d’Honneur. Mr Murphy had returned to France many times and continued to make the journey in his 90s.

In civilian life, he worked at a factory in Kirkstall, Leeds.

His wife, Evelyn, predeceased him. He is survived by a niece.