Derby

WW2 veteran Ernest Turner given France's highest honour

Ernest Turner receiving the Legion d'Honneur from the French republic
Image caption Ernest Turner received the Legion d'Honneur from the French republic

A World War Two veteran given France's highest bravery award said he would almost rather be back in action than made a fuss over at a ceremony.

Ernest Turner was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur for his part in the D-Day landings in a presentation in Ilkeston.

He said he was rather embarrassed by the ceremony and, if he was younger, would prefer to fight on the beaches.

A French representative said they owed their freedom to those involved.

Image caption Ernest Turner landed on Juno beach in the D-Day Landings in 1944

The 90-year-old Derbyshire man said: "It was rather embarrassing really [with all the people there]. I would rather be in action if I'm honest. If I was younger [the beaches] wouldn't worry me."

Talking about his role in the D-Day landings, he said: "I was a gunner on 25 pounders - which was a very small field gun.

"I came as a re-enforcement, and when the 43rd [Wessex] Division arrived I was allocated to them and stayed with them until the end of the war."

Asked about his emotions at the time, he added: "I never thought of anything else, other than just doing what I had got to do."

A letter from the French Embassy informing Mr Turner that he was to receive the country's top honour said: "We must never forget those, like you, who came from Britain and the Commonwealth to begin the liberation of Europe by liberating France.

"We owe our freedom and security to your dedication."

Largest armada

The invasion of France in 1944 was a massive undertaking involving tens of thousands of troops and months of careful planning.

On 6 June Allied forces, carried on the largest armada ever seen, landed on five beaches in Normandy, many facing fierce resistance from the Nazi occupiers.

An estimated 4,413 Allied troops were killed in the operation but 11 months later Nazi Germany was defeated.

D-Day timeline: The beginning of the end of WW2

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