French hon­our for brave D-Day vet­er­ans

Macclesfield Express - - BEFORE THE BENCH - STU­ART GREER

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.

Do­minic Salter

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

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