Haverhill WWII veteran surprised to receive French honour

D-Day veteran Ron Mayes from Haverhill, has received a medal from the French Government

Ron has received the medal for being one of the soldiers that landed in France on D-Day in 1944.
Picture Mark Westley
D-Day veteran Ron Mayes from Haverhill, has received a medal from the French Government Ron has received the medal for being one of the soldiers that landed in France on D-Day in 1944. Picture Mark Westley

War veteran Ron Mayes has expressed his surprise at getting the highest distinction for military service given out by the French Government - 73 years after he took part in the D-Day landings.

Mr Mayes, now 92, has been awarded the Légion d’honneur (Chevalier class).

The medal is among hundreds being given by the French Government to the Allied personnel that participated in the June 6, 1944 landings on the beaches of Normandy.

Widower and great-grandfather, Mr Mayes, was a 19-year-old soldier with the 2nd Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry when he landed on Sword Beach, near Hermonville. He was wounded by shrapnel just three hours after landing in France.

The arrival of the medal, which according to the French Embassy website is only given on average to ten British nationals per year, was unexpected for Mr Mayes, who believes he is the only D-Day veteran in Haverhill.

He believes it was applied for on his behalf by an historian for his old battalion whom he met during a trip to a war memorial in Staffordshire two years ago.

He said: “I reckon the historian put me in for it.

“It has been in the national press a bit lately but I had never heard of it before and I didn’t know it was coming.

“It’s a lovely medal.”