Ambassador awards Légion d’Honneur to British WWII veterans


London, 29 April 2015

On Tuesday 28 April, the French Ambassador to the UK, Sylvie Bermann, awarded the Légion d’Honneur to six British World War II veterans at a ceremony at the Yorkshire Air Museum in York.

They received France’s highest honour in recognition of their contribution to the Liberation of France during the Second World War.

The men honoured were Gerald Eric Briscoe (Royal Engineers), Gordon Collinson (Royal Tank Regiment of the Royal Armoured Corps), James Denwood (Royal Engineers), Eric Gill (King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry), Thomas William Wright (Staffordshire Yeomanry) and Bernard Anthony Rush (Royal Navy).

During her visit to York, the French Ambassador met with the Archbishop of York John Sentamu and visited the gothic cathedral York Minster, where there is a memorial to the two squadrons of French airmen who were based at nearby RAF Elvington during the Second World War. More than 2,000 French people lived in York during the Second World War, contributing to the Allied war effort as engineers, pilots, secretaries and gunners.

The Ambassador also visited an exhibition in central York to mark the 73rd anniversary of the ‘Baedecker’ raids, a German bombing raid which took place in the early morning of 29 April 1942. The French pilot Yves Mahé, who was based in York at the time, is credited with having saved the city from complete destruction by intercepting the German bombers in his Hawker Hurricane jet.

The Ambassador also met a French glazier working at the York Glaziers Trust, the studio responsible for preserving York Minster’s 128 stained glass windows.

The Ambassador’s day in York concluded with a trip to the University of York, where she gave a lecture on Franco-British strategic relations.

Published on 13/05/2015

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