France awards top mil­i­tary hon­our to D-Day vet­eran

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Helping Others - By Ai­dan Bar­low

A for­mer hard­ware shop owner who served as a land­ing craft gun­ner on D-Day has been awarded France’s high­est mil­i­tary hon­our for his role in lib­er­at­ing Europe from Nazi tyranny.

Ter­ence Dick­in­son was 18 years old dur­ing the bat­tle at Juno beach, where Cana­dian sol­diers landed on June 6, 1944.

He served on board a land­ing craft flak (LCF) ship below deck, hand­ing am­mu­ni­tion to the gun­ners to sup­port the troops on the beach.

On Sun­day he marked his 90th birth­day sur­rounded by his wife Brenda and his seven chil­dren at the Con­ning­brook Ho­tel in Ken­ning­ton.

He was also vis­ited by the French Hon­orary Consul for Kent James Rylands who pre­sented him with the Cheva­lier class medal.

He also re­ceived a let­ter from the French am­bas­sador Sylvie Ber­mann which read: “I have the plea­sure of in­form­ing you that the Pres­i­dent of the Re­pub­lic has ap­pointed you to the rank of Cheva­lier in the Or­dre Na­tional de La Le­gion d’Hon­neur.

“I of­fer you my warm­est con­grat­u­la­tions on this high hon­our in recog­ni­tion of your ac­knowl­edged mil­i­tary en­gage­ment and your stead­fast in­volve­ment in the Lib­er­a­tion of France dur­ing the Se­cond World War.

“As we con­tem­plate this Europe of peace, we must never for­get the he­roes like you, who come 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 ready to risk your life.”

The medals have been awarded af­ter a de­ci­sion by French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande that all sur­viv­ing D-Day veter­ans should be hon­oured for their ser­vice.

Mr Dick­in­son used to run Dick­in­son’s DIY shop in the town cen­tre and was also the or­gan­iser of Ash­ford’s Car­ni­val for over 30 years along­side his wife Brenda.

He said: “It was mar­vel­lous, my chil­dren flew in from all around the world and we had a good meal. I was the only one in Ash­ford to be awarded the medal, so I wanted it to be pre­sented here in the town.

“The Se­cond World War still af­fects me and up­sets me a bit. It’s not re­ally my medal, it’s a medal I ac­cept on be­half of all those still in France who didn’t come back.”

Pic­ture: Re­becca Hol­l­i­day FM4226299

James Rye­land, who is the French Hon­orary Consul for Kent, with Ter­ence Dick­in­son and his wife Brenda

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