Northampton Second World War veteran honoured with Légion d'Honneur medal 73 years after service

The Honourary Consul of France awarding George Verden with the Lgion d'Honneur medal at the Mayor's Office at Northampton Guildhall.
The Honourary Consul of France awarding George Verden with the Lgion d'Honneur medal at the Mayor's Office at Northampton Guildhall.

A former 94-year-old wireless operator and rear gunner, who 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).

Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

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."

Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

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."

Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

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."

Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.