Wednesday, 2 March 2016

A Medal So Late is an Insult

So the French government has finally got round to awarding medals to some of the British Army veterans who took part in the liberation of France in 1944. Oxford City Council held  a ceremony at the Town Hall this afternoon for the eight local nonogenarians who have survived the seventy-two years since the D-Day landings.

What took the French so long?

Only about 1% of the men who took part are still alive. Most of them are long dead, and never got any recognition at all for their undoubted heroism. They left their homes behind them for six years, and risked their lives in a foreign country most of them had never visited before. When they got home, (and not all of them did) they got tiny, derisory war pensions and struggled as best they could to work despite their injuries, disabilities, burst ear-drums, and invisible, psychological damage. The heads of their squadrons and regiments sent wreaths to their funerals ...paid for with money out of their own pockets.
Now suddenly the French start to feel grateful, a few months before the EU referendum.  They hand out medals, to be worn by frail great-great-grandfathers in wheelchairs.

Am I the only person who smells Brussels somewhere in the background here?

D-Day veterans from Oxfordshire will be presented with the “Chevalier Legion D’ Honneur Medal” at a ceremony to be held 2pm on Tuesday 1 March 2016, Oxford Town Hall.

After the medal ceremony the Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Rae Humberstone will host a tea party for the veterans and their families and guests.

The French government has been awarding the Légion d’honneur to D-Day veterans from many different countries for several years, as a way of honouring and thanking those who fought and risked their lives to secure France’s liberation during the Second World War.

The veterans from Oxfordshire and their families will be joined amongst others, by the Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Rae Humberstone, Chairman of Oxfordshire County Council John Sanders and from the Lord Lieutenants office, Marie-Jane Barnett DL

The Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Rae Humberstone said

“It is a privilege to host this very historic occasion, as we honour these very special people. We celebrate the courage shown by them and their comrades, in those first crucial hours of 6 June 1944, in the days immediately following the Normandy landings and in the ensuing months, I look forward to welcoming them, their families and guests to the Town Hall.”

The medals will be presented to the veterans by the Honorary Consul for France, Mr Robert F Mille, as a way of thanking them for their bravery and courage for the part they played in the D-Day landings in June 1944.

The Order of Légion D’ Honneur is the highest decoration in France and is ranked: Grand Cross to the Legion of Honour, Commander to the Legion of Honour, Officer to the Legion of Honour and Knight to the Legion of Honour (Chevalier).

Published: Friday, 26th February 2016

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