France awards top military honour to D-Day veteran
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.”
James Ryeland, who is the French Honorary Consul for Kent, with Terence Dickinson and his wife Brenda