Veterans receive France's highest award

Three veterans from Biggleswade who helped to liberate France during the Second World War have been presented with the country’s highest honour. 

Cyril Arthur Richardson, Victor George Brunt and Edward (Ted) Murdoch Beard were presented with the insignia of Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur yesterday on behalf of HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis.

The presentation was carried out by Deputy Lieutenant Major Simon Sadler at Mayor of Biggleswade Cllr Hazel Ramsey’s annual civic service.

That was held at Trinity Methodist Church, in Biggleswade, and led by Rev Andrew Hollins.

The three men, who are all in their 90s, were joined by their families and Jane Dale, of Biggleswade History Society, who supported the veterans and the Lord-Lieutenant with their applications for the award.

Cyril, Victor and Ted said that they felt very honoured to be recognised with their medals for their military engagement and steadfast involvement in the liberation of France during the 1939-45 conflict.

In her letter to the three men, French Ambassador Sylvie Berman said: “As we contemplate this Europe of peace, we must never forget the heroes like you who came 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.”

Major Sadler said: "It was a real honour for both myself, everyone present, and indeed the whole community of Bedfordshire to publicly recognise the contribution that these veterans accomplished on D-Day.

“No-one who wasn't there on 6 June 1944 can even begin to understand what they went through, so it is by events such as these presentations that we can show our appreciation.

“They are being honoured by the French Republic but in reality they honour us by sharing their experiences in such a public forum, and what better occasion than the civic service? It was a privilege for me to present these decorations."

Major Sadler was supported at the presentation by two of the Lord-Lieutenant’s cadets: Cadet Warrant Officer Aaron Harvey (Beds and Cambs Wing ATC) and Cadet Flight Sergeant Rachel Radley (CCF – Bedford Modern School).

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