September 29th, 2016

Pershore veteran to be honoured with Legion d’honneur

Pershore veteran to be honoured with Legion d’honneur Pershore veteran to be honoured with Legion d’honneur
Evesham Observer Newspaper

A PERSHORE Second World War veteran will be presented with the prestigious Legion d’honneur in recognition of his services in France.

95-year-old Harold Wilson, who served his country between 1939 and 1945, will be rewarded with the accolade tomorrow (Saturday), after the Pershore and District Royal British Legion’s (PDRBL) 87th annual branch dinner at The Berkeley in Spetchley.

Commander Jon Milsom, chief of staff and principal engineer at the Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering at RAF Cosford, will present Mr Wilson with the National Order of the Legion of Honour in the presence of Coun Val Wood, Chairman of Wychavon District Council, Coun Tony and Debbie Rowley, Mayor and Mayoress of Pershore, family, friends and cadets.

Mr Wilson served with the Scottish Yeomanry in Normandy in 1939 at just 18-years-old as a tank driver in Operations Epsom, Goodwood and Bluecoat.

During Operation Goodwood his Sherman Tank was struck by a missile which killed both the radio operator and the gunner, both aged 18.

The Germans called the Sherman Tank’s ‘Tommy Cookers’, due to its tendency to burst into flames when hit.

During the war Mr Wilson married his wife Jean in 1942 and saw action in the famous Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 to January 1945, before he was stationed in the Belgium city of Antwerp.

Former Pershore High School pupil Commander Milsom, was a founding member of Pershore Squadron Air Training Corps before joining the RAF in 1989.

He has served on HMS Illustrious and has completed a master’s degree in Aerospace Vehicle Design.

Gareth Jenkins, honorary and membership secretary of PDRBL said: “Harold is a veteran who needs to be recognised for playing his part in liberating France.

“He experienced many nasty occurrences during the war and lost two of his men in a Sherman Tank. The fact he survived that incident in itself is quite remarkable.”

The Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napolean Bonaparte in 1802 and is the highest decoration in France.

The order’s motto is ‘Honneur et Patrie’ (Honour and Country) and its seat is in the Palais de la Legion d’honneur on the left bank of the River Seine in Paris.

In 2014, French President Francois Hollande pledged to bestow all surviving British veterans with the award during his speech to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of D-Day.

The branch ceremony will take place at 9pm.

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