French honour for brave D-Day veterans
TWO brave veterans have been awarded the highest French order of merit for their service during the Second World War.
Kenneth Newton, 94, and George Lucas, 92, were appointed to the rank of chevalier, or knight, of the Légion d’Honneur for their involvement in the D-Day landings.
Both men are residents of Parkmount Care Home in Macclesfield.
They were given their medals by Rodolphe Soulard, the Honorary French Consul of Manchester, in front of family, friends and local dignitaries Macclesfield MP David Rutley and the Mayor of Macclesfield, Councillor Beverley Dooley.
A member of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, Kenneth reached the beaches of Normandy by landing craft.
Along with others from his platoon, he dug trenches overnight, and planned to damage the attacking German Panzer Tanks with six pounder anti-tank guns. He then supported the defence of vital bridges, to allow the rest of the division to pass through to Belgium and Holland.
Kenneth survived 12 attacks by German divisions on the Anti-Tank platoon.
He has said he is thrilled to receive the award.
He was born in Macclesfield and after his army service worked at the Barracks Fabrics factory before going to work at British Aerospace as a photographer.
Kenneth said: “One of my memories was advancing with my patrol when they found themselves fighting and having to dig a trench. There was an explosion and all my patrol were killed and I managed to escape and was the only one to survive.”
George, who was born in Shropshire and grew up in Attingham Park, joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1943. He embarked on the SS Invicta for Normandy, landing at Arromanches, from where his platoon marched to Bayeux – the site chosen for the hospital for the casualties of D-Day.
On the first day alone, 717 casualties of the Battle at Normandy were treated there. In December 1944, George was posted to India Command, returning to the UK in 1946.
He returned to Normandy in 2010 with his grandson, Jordan.
George was a head chef in several hotels in Shropshire and moved to Macclesfield to be near his family.
He said he is ‘delighted’ to receive ‘this very special award in the memory of those brave soldiers who didn’t come home’.
Paying tribute to the achievement Mr Rutley said: “It was a privilege to attend these ceremonies and to see George and Kenneth recognised with this special honour. The bravery, sacrifice and service that they and countless others demonstrated must never be forgotten. We owe the freedom that we enjoy to their actions, and it is entirely right that they have been thanked in this way.”
In 2014 the French Government said they wished to honour all surviving Allied veterans of D-Day, for the selfless acts of heroism and determination they displayed in pursuit of the liberation of France and the rest of Western Europe.
Kenneth Newton is presented with the Légion d’Honneur at Parkmount Care Home in front of his family and friends
Being in hospital did not stop George Lucas, 92, getting his award, and MP David Rutley and Mayor Beverley Dooley went along to meet him