D-Day veteran from Eau Brink receives highest French decoration

World War II veteran Mr Harry Bowdrery recieves the highest decoration given by France from King's Lynn Town  Mayor David Whitby. ANL-160614-205918009
World War II veteran Mr Harry Bowdrery recieves the highest decoration given by France from King's Lynn Town Mayor David Whitby. ANL-160614-205918009
0
Have your say

A 90-year-old D-Day veteran has received France’s highest decoration for his bravery in the Second World War.

Harry Bowdery, from Eau Brink, was awarded his Légion d’Honneur by Mayor David Whitby in Lynn Town Hall’s Mayor’s Parlour on Tuesday afternoon, which was accompanied by a tea party afterwards.

Mr Bowdery said: “It is nice to be able to tell all the children about the D-Day landings because they need to know about it.

“I was only 18 at the time, but it was an experience.”

Mr Bowdery served with the Royal Navy and operated the landing craft’s ramp to allow soldiers onto Omaha Beach, on the Normandy coast, on June 6, 1944.

He described the operation as successful but hectic, adding: “I don’t remember a lot about it because I was too busy.

“Once we got to the beaches the ramp was full. We were glad to get back into the ship and start again. They said ‘you’ve done a good job Harry, now go to Burma and sort that out’.”

Mr Bowdery said of his celebrations on Tuesday: “I think it’s great because I’ve got a bit of sponge cake and a cup of coffee.”

Members of Mr Bowdery’s family joined the celebrations, including his brother, Derek, his son and daughter, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Sue Jeffery, Mr Bowdery’s daughter, said: “We are all incredibly proud of him. Considering what went on at that time we are lucky to have him here.”

Martin Bowdery, Harry’s son, said: “This type of recognition has to continue on the basis that these generations need to understand that this sort of thing should never happen again.”

In 2014, on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, it was announced by French president Franç ois Hollande that all British veterans who fought for the liberation of Nazi-occupied France would be awarded the highest French military honour.

Derek, Harry’s younger brother, said: “After Harry left for the navy, I wasn’t worried about him, I didn’t even think about it.”

When Mr Bowdery could not attend the official honouring ceremony at the French Embassy, Mayor David Whitby was asked if he could formally award the honour.

Mr Whitby said: “It is very humbling to hear about what Harry faced all those years ago.

“I consider it an honour and a privilege to be able to formally present Harry with his decoration 72 years on.”

The Légion d’honneur (The National Order Of The Legion Of Honour) was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.