12 World War II veterans in Wales receive France’s highest honour

French Ambassador awards 12 veterans in Wales the Légion d’honneur for their role in the liberation of France


Thursday 28 January 2016

Twelve British World War II veterans have been presented with the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest distinction, during a ceremony at the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff.

The medals were presented by the French Ambassador to the UK, Sylvie Bermann, in the presence of the Secretary of State for Wales, Stephen Crabb, the Minister for Public Services, Leighton Andrews, and the Lord Lieutenant of South Glamorgan, Dr Peter Beck. The Deputy Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, David Melding AM hosted the event and AMs were invited.

The veterans were honoured for their role in securing France’s liberation during the Second World War, with most having taken part in the June 1944 D-Day landings.

The medal ceremony follows a number of others that have taken place around the UK since the 70th anniversary of D-Day in June 2014, when President François Hollande pledged to honour all those British veterans who had served in France during the war.

The 12 veterans honoured are:

• George Owens (Marine, Royal Marines), 91, from Pembroke Dock
• Anthony Clark (Gunner, Royal Artillery), 91, from Newport
• Geoffrey Taverner (Flight Lieutenant, Royal Air Force), 92, from Newport
• Henry Corless (Marine, Royal Marines), 90, from Bridgend
• John Smith (Leading Aircraftman, Royal Air Force), 92, from Cardiff
• Donald Jones (Lance Corporal, Parachute Regiment), 93, from Pontypool
• Eric Barley (Private/signaller, Parachute Regiment), 91, from Bridgend
• Philip Berry (Trooper, Tank Crew), 92, from Penarth
• William Speake (Private, South Wales Borderers/Army), 90, from Clacton, Essex
• John Emlyn-Jones OBE (Flying Officer, Royal Air Force), 92, from Cardiff
• Stanley Smith (Midshipman, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve), 90, from Cardigan
• Richard Evans (Private, Armored Guards), 90, from Vale of Glamorgan

Ambassador Bermann said: “It is a great honour to present these 12 veterans with the Légion d’honneur. The medal is France’s highest distinction, awarded for acts of the utmost bravery.

“By awarding these medals we are showing our gratitude to these men for the service they paid to our country over 70 years ago. It is to them that we owe the freedom we enjoy today.”

Dr Peter Beck, The Lord Lieutenant of South Glamorgan said: "As HM The Queen’s Personal Representative in Wales’ Capital City, I am delighted to be present to witness HE The French Ambassador, Mme Bermann presenting the Legion d’Honneur – France’s highest award – to 12 Welsh veterans who served in France during the Second World War."

Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb said: “I am immensely proud to attend this special ceremony.

“These are great men who displayed immense bravery and determination in the liberation of France. They now rightly take their place amongst a special group of brave servicemen and women to have been awarded the highest of French honours.”

Before the medal ceremony began, the Deputy Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, David Melding, presented a book of condolences to the French Ambassador following the 2015 Paris attacks.

Published on 01/03/2016

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