Veteran given honour for role in Normandy
French accolade presented to Peter
A 92-YEAR-OLD World War Two veteran from Hillingdon was honoured with France’s highest accolade for his role in the Normandy landings, ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
Peter Chesney was given the Legion d’Honneur at Hillingdon Hospital on Thursday November 3 after his surgeon learned of his heroic past and contacted the French Embassy, in London.
Mr Chesney joined the military aged 18 and took part in the Battle of Caen in the summer of 1944 and fought through Holland and into Germany.
The veteran, who lives in a Ruislip care home, said: “I knew that I’d have to join the services when I was 18, and I was called over to Acton to register. I wanted to join the RAF because they had a shirt and tie – but they were full.
“Everyone wanted to join the RAF.”
Instead, Mr Chesney was called up to 109 Battery, 33 Field Regiment The Royal Artillery in 1943, and was paid three shillings a day.
The French government decided in 2014 to honour the service of all British veterans who helped liberate Normandy by presenting them with the Legion d’Honneur.
His only remaining desire was to receive this medal before he died because it cant be awarded posthumously”
Alistair Myers, consultant colorectal surgeon at Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, recently performed surgery on Mr Chesney and he learned of his time in the Army.
Mr Myers said: “When we first met he said his only remaining desire was to receive this medal before he died because it can’t be awarded posthumously.
“It meant so much to him.
“He has no living relatives and this is really the last thing he wanted to achieve in his life.”
Mr Myers contacted the Ministry of Defence and the French Embassy and the medal was sent to the hospital, where Mr Chesney was recovering from his surgery.
The ceremony was attended by the Mayor of Hillingdon John Hensley, Mayoress Diane Hensley and Mr Myers.
ACCOLADE: Peter Chesney (centre) was given a French honour for his service in World War Two; (above) pictured with Mayor and Mayoress John and Diane Hensley and Alistair Myers