Lancashire D-Day war veteran officially awarded France’s top honour

Cyril Parkinson from Fulwood with his Legion D'Honneur

Cyril Parkinson from Fulwood with his Legion D'Honneur

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A Lancashire war veteran has been officially honoured by the French government – more than 70 years after taking part in the D-Day landings.

Cyril Parkinson, now 93, served with the the 8th Battalion the Middlesex Machine Gun Regiment in Kent.

Cyril Parkinson from Fulwood with his Legion D'Honneur

Cyril Parkinson from Fulwood with his Legion D'Honneur

He landed at Normandy in June 1944 and saw action through France, Belgium and Holland.

Now Cyril has been sent his long-awaited Chevalier de Légion d’honneur as recognition for his service in the liberation of France.

The Légion d’honneur was established in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte.

It is France’s highest distinction and is awarded in recognition of both military and civilian merit.

He is over the moon with his medal and he thoroughly deserves it.

Gary Watkins

In June 2014, on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, French President Francois Hollande announced that the medal would be awarded to all British veterans who fought for the liberation of France during the Second World War.

Widower Cyril, who formerly worked at British Aerospace in Samlesbury, is now proudly showing off the medal at his Preston home.

His nephew Gary Watkins said: “He is over the moon with his medal and he thoroughly deserves it.”

Cyril, a despatch rider, recalled how on the way across to the D-Day landings he was “sick all the way across” because of the stormy weather.

An example of a landing craft during the D-Day landings in Normandy in June 1944.

An example of a landing craft during the D-Day landings in Normandy in June 1944.

They arrived at Juno Beach but had to stay on board overnight because of the poor weather.

Then they finally disembarked, and “we had battles all the way through France, Begium and Holland, including the ill-fated battle of Arnhem and into Germany.”

After Armistice Day, he served in Egypt and Iraq while waiting to be demobbed.

At a ceremony in London last year, Jean-Marc Todeschini, French Minister of State for Veterans and Remembrance, said: “It is my honour to be presenting these British World War II veterans with the Légion d’honneur, and I do so with a great deal of respect and gratitude.

“To these men, France owes its liberation. We will never forget their bravery over 70 years ago, which led to freedom and peace in France and across Europe.”