VETERANS from Evesham have received France’s highest honour the Légion d’honneur for their service in helping to liberate the country from the Nazis during the Second World War
William McGough, 91, and William Brotherton, 90, were presented with the medals by monsieur Robert Mille from the French Consulate at a ceremony in front of their proud family and friends at Evesham Town Hall on Tuesday (May 10).
Both brave veterans played two different parts in the battle for liberation, Flight Sergeant William McGough volunteered aged 17 and a half. After completing his training, he served with 100 Lancaster Squadron and completed 32 bombing missions over France and Germany- several of which were to support ground troops shortly before D-Day.
He was a mid-upper air gunner at the time, but when onto complete his service before retiring in 1980.
William Brotherton a Royal Marine and coxon of a landing craft volunteered aged 17 and a half in March 1943. He later reported for training in Lympstone with eight other local men.
One year later in March 1944 he was drafted to a landing ship in Portsmouth where they practiced hoisting and lowering craft into the sea. He was then involved in the second wave invasion on D-Day where he helped deploy troops onto the beaches of Normandy.
Speaking to the Observer, William McGough said: “It certainly was an honour and I was amazed at the amount of people who took the time to turnout to see us being presented with this.
“I was 17 and a half in 1942 and I applied for air crew in the RAF and was told to go for some tests and passed them.
“Then at 18 they called me up and that’s where it all started.
“I was sent up to Bridlington to do initial training and my first flying training was done in Wales.
“We qualified and were then sent to crew up for bomber command.
“We started off on Wellingtons. I then did 32 bombing operations in Lancaster Bombers.
“After the war I carried on and was supposed to go and train as a pilot, but they found because of the things I’d been through during the war I was unfit for flying so I became an air traffic control officer and I did that until 1980.”
William Brotherton said: “I can’t believe it; we didn’t expect anything like this at all. It was amazing really.
“There were about 16 of us that went to Worcester to volunteer.
“We were all in the ATC and we decided it was time we went and did our bit. Some went to the Air Force, some in the Navy and my mate and myself went to the marines.
“I was there on D-Day in the second wave.
After the Second World War had ended, Mr Brotherton was also involved in returning prisoners of war back to Shanghai after they were detained in Japanese camps.
“Just after the Japanese surrendered, an officer, myself and two marines were transferred to an aircraft carrier and then when the Japanese left Mosul we took off on four planes and landed in Shanghai as a prisoner of war team.
“These were civilians and they all lived in Shanghai, but they had all been detained in this prison camp for sometime.”