‘It’s about bloody time’, says St Albans WWII veteran, as he is awarded the Legion d’honneur

John Jenkins with his medal the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur which he was awarded by the French

John Jenkins with his medal the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur which he was awarded by the French government for his role in D-Day - Credit: Archant

A Second World War veteran has been awarded the highest decoration in France by the French Government for his help with the ‘liberation’ of Europe during the war.

Anthony John Jenkins, 92, was an air bomber in 297 squadron, towing a Horsa Glider to Normandy on D-Day, and was recently awarded the rank of ‘Chevalier’ in the ‘Legion d’honneur’ (Legion of Honour) decoration for his contribution to the war.

He also took part in subsequent supply operations to France to support the Resistance and the Special Air Service.

Following a call to veterans from the French government, John (as he likes to be known) applied for the decoration 18 months ago, and it only arrived recently.

John said of his reaction when he first got the letter: “It’s about bloody time! 71 years later!”

He added: “I was very surprised and happy.”

The pensioner, who lives in the Camp area of St Albans, is one of thousands who have been awarded the medal by the French Government.

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But John had a close call during his time with the RAF, when the aircraft to his left was shot down as he left the dropping zone on D-Day.

The letter sent to John 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.”

John decided against having a ceremonial presentation but had a belated celebration in October with friends and family on his birthday.

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