27 January 2017
Four British Second World War veterans from Sheffield have been presented with the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest military distinction, in a ceremony yesterday.
The four veterans, all in their early 90s, were presented with the awards during a ceremony hosted by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Denise Fox, on Thursday at 2pm.
The four veterans include Roy Stout, who served in the Royal Air Force before enjoying a 40-year career working for Sheffield City Council in its estates department.
Mr Stout said: “I served as a radar mechanic and was on the Franco-German border three weeks after D-Day. I’m a member of the Blind Veterans UK group and they suggested I might be eligible for the Legion of Honour but it’s impossible to believe really. We’re the last line standing.
“Some of my former colleagues at Sheffield City Council are here too – they call us the old lags.
The other veterans being presented with the award were Graham Bell, Donald Walker and George Young, who all still live in Sheffield.
Councillor Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield City Council, said:: “These four men are totally deserving of this honour, for their service during the war, and for their ongoing commitment to the city of Sheffield.
“This ceremony is an important part of our ongoing celebrations to commemorate the soldiers who fought for our city, and for peace, across the world during those two terrible conflicts in the last century.”
Councillor Denise Fox, Lord Mayor of Sheffield, added: “It was great to present these medals – it was a moving and poignant service which also shows our commitment to our current armed forces.”
The medals will be presented by Monsieur Jean-Claude Lafontaine, Consul Honoraire de France, and The Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire will also be present.
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 French President François Hollande pledged to honour all British veterans who had served in France during the war. France has so far decorated more than 4,300 D-Day veterans across the UK.
The National Order of the Legion of Honour (Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur) is the highest French order for military and civil merits, established in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte.
Veterans across the UK are being honoured for their role in securing France’s liberation during the Second World War, with many having taken part in the June 1944 D-Day landings.
Notes to editors:
Last year, Sheffield unveiled a plaque for First World War hero William Barnsley Allen at the Cenotaph war memorial.
The ceremony was the second of three memorial services to commemorate the Sheffield-born recipients of the VCs awarded during the First World War – each to mark the 100th anniversary since they were awarded.
In 2015, there was a ceremony to lay a plaque in honour of Sgt Maj John Raynes and later in 2017, Private Arnold Loosemore will be honoured.