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France honours D-Day veteran

A veteran of the D-Day landings has been recognised for his service to the people of France by being awarded the country’s highest military honour.

 

Tom Bridgewater, from Kempsey, was presented with the Legion d’honneur for his role in helping to liberate France during the Second World War. The 93-year-old was a member of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps when he landed on sword beach on 6 June 1944. He later transferred to the West Yorkshire Regiment, with whom he saw further active service in Italy, specialising in bomb and booby trap detection and disposal.

 

He was presented with the honour by Monsieur Robert F. Mille, from the French Honorary Consul in Birmingham, during a ceremony at Worcester’s Guildhall on 7 February, 2017.

 

Cllr John Raine, Chairman of Malvern Hills District Council, also attended and presented Tom with a framed Turner print of the Malvern Hills as a thank you for his bravery from the people of the district.

 

In 2014 French President Francois Hollande pledged to bestow all surviving British veterans with the Légion d'honneur, during his speech to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

 

The award was established on 19 May, 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte.

 

Tom originally received the award in the post. However, his neighbour Shaun Leavy (also a retired serviceman) decided the honour deserved greater recognition than that and got in touch with the council about organising for it to be formally presented to the veteran.

 

After receiving the award Tom said: “I feel absolutely overwhelmed, it is a great honour. I’m only sorry my wife isn’t here with me.”

 

Mr Leavy added: “My friend and neighbour Tom deserved to have this honour pinned on his chest, surrounded by his family, friends and comrades-in-arms both retired and serving. I was delighted that the Yorkshire Regiment was able to attend and ‘fly the Regimental flag’ for Tom”

 

Cllr John Raine, Chairman of Malvern Hills District Council, said: “It was a privilege to be able to meet Tom and be present at the presentation of his award. Every one of us owes a great debt of gratitude to Tom and all those who risked, and lost, their lives on D-Day so we could be free from the threat of tyranny.”