Two D-day veterans from Warrington have received the French government’s highest honour: the Ordre National de la Legion d’honneur.
Harry Mason (aged 96) from Penketh and Richard Massey (90), from Fairfield, received their awards at Warrington Town Hall in recognition of their part in the liberation of France during World War II.
The following statement, issued by French President François Hollande, accompanied the award.
“As we contemplate this Europe of peace, we must never forget the heroes like you who came from Britain and the Commonwealth to begin the liberation of Europe by liberating France.
“We owe our freedom and security to your dedication, because you were willing to risk your life.”
The Mayor of Warrington, Cllr Geoff Settle, and the Mayoress, Mrs Jean Settle, welcomed the veterans’ families for afternoon tea and heard of their experiences in the 1944 landings – when Harry and Richard were just young men aged 18 and 26 years old respectively.
Mayor of Warrington, Cllr Settle, said:
“The Mayoress and I were very privileged to meet the two veterans who took part in the Normandy landings, and to hear about when they landed on the Gold Beach and scaled the cliffs.
“We both remembered Mr Mason from Penketh’s 2014 Remembrance service when he was interviewed on stage by Penketh High School pupils as part of the wonderful service. We never got a chance to say ‘hello’, so it was good to chat with him in person and his son, as well as his wife and family.
“We’d like to thank Cllr Peter Carey for organising this ceremony to help everyone celebrate such a proud achievement.”
It is understood that Mr Mason and Mr Massey were in the same regiment, but had never met before the Town Hall celebration.