Northampton Second World War veteran honoured with LÃ©gion d'Honneur medal 73 years after service
A former 94-year-old pilot, who flew 49 missions in his RAF career and took part in crucial bombing operations on D-Day, broke down in tears as he was awarded his service medals after 73 years.
George Verden of Spinney Hill was presented with the Légion d'Honneur - the highest decoration in France - by the Honorary Consul of France at an official ceremony at the Guildhall on Friday (October 20).
After the war, Mr Verden lost the slip of paper proving his valour and found he had stashed it away in his logbook - used by his grandchildren at school show and tell days - 73 years after he had earned his medals.
Mr Verden said: "I'm glad I have got the medal because I've earned it but it makes you sad to think that the other lads that helped me get the medal are not here to get theirs. That's the sad part about it.
"I've been looking forward to having this presented - you can't describe the feeling. Unless you're a flyer, you don't know.
"We were not brave men we were just proud men doing what we were trained to do. Once you got up there, you weren't brave, you were looking out for yourself all of the time."
George joined the RAF when he was 18 years old back in 1940 and finished his service in 1946 as a warrant officer.
By D-Day, the start of the Allied campaign to retake Normandy and bring the war to an end, George had flown 22 operations.
He and his crew were tasked with bombing runs to secure a key strategic point known as Pegasus Bridge, in Caen, France.
He added: "The crews always stuck together because when you were flying, you didn't go out all on your own. You stayed altogether because when you're flying it's like a little family."
Mr Verden contacted Northampton North MP, Michael Ellis back in December 2016 as he was unsure whether he was in receipt of the 1939 45 Star and the France and Germany Star medals.
After Mr Ellis wrote to the Ministry of Defence, Mr Verden was presented with the two medals before he discovered he was also entitled to a very exclusive third medal, the Légion d'Honneur.
His son, Peter Verden watched on proudly at the ceremony. He said: "Dad is a very humble man.
"I don't think many of them expected to survive. He doesn't feel the medals belong to him but the medal belongs to all of his aircrew."