Calderdale veterans awarded the Légion d’Honneur for Normandy roles

Jack Holstead with Geoffrey Noble
Jack Holstead with Geoffrey Noble

It was the largest naval, air and land operation in history and heralded the start of a long and costly campaign that would finally liberate Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany almost a year later.

Of the 156,000 Allied troops who landed in Normandy on D-Day - June 6, 1944 - records indicate that around 10,000 men were either killed, wounded, went missing in action or became prisoners of war.

Seventy-two years on and there may be few left who survived what was the biggest operation of the Second World War, but 12 such men - all from Yorkshire - have now been officially recognised for their service in the most decorated of ways by the French government.

Among those were Geoffrey Noble, of Brighouse and Jack Holstead, of Northowram - pick up your copy of this week’s Brighouse Echo and Halifax Courier to read more about their stories.

The former military men and their families gathered at The Allied Air Forces Memorial and Yorkshire Air Museum near York yesterday, where high-ranking French dignitaries presented each with their country’s highest honour, the Légion d’Honneur.

During a poignant event attended by more than 100 guests, retired servicemen from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force each stepped forward to have their medals pinned to the lapel of their military blazers; a duty performed by the French Defence Attaché to the UK, Contre Amiral Patrick Chevallereau; French Air Attaché, Colonel Patrice Morand; and French Consul, Jeremy Burton.

The ceremony was the latest in a series of commemorations to have taken place since the 70th anniversary of D-Day in June 2014, when French President François Hollande pledged to honour all British veterans who had served in France during the war.