Ambassador Barbier bestows the medal of Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur on two veterans of WWII [fr]
On 7 December 2015, Ambassador of France to South Africa, Elisabeth Barbier, bestowed the medal of Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur (Knighthood in the Legion of Honour) on two veterans of the Second World War – Captain John Andrew Hilton and Staff Sergeant Alexander McKenzie Reith.
On 6 June 2014, hundreds of veteranfs of World War II gathered to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. During this ceremony, French President François Hollande announced the awarding of the Legion d’Honneur (France’s highest distinction) to Normandy veterans.
The French Legion of Honour celebrates the accomplishments of distinguished individuals, irrespective of sex, social background and nationality. The national order of the Legion of Honour was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. It is divided into five degrees of increasing distinction: Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur (Commander), Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand Croix (Grand Cross). It was first awarded on July 14 1804.
Surrounded by family and friends, the two British veterans were awarded the medal of Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur by the Ambassador of France to South Africa at the Residence of France.
Captain John Andrew Hilton, born on 21 November 1918, was part of the Royal Engineers during the Second World War. He crossed the English Channel on a Landing Craft Tank and landed in Normandy on 8 June 1944.
Staff Sergeant Alexander McKenzie Reith, born on 14 May 1922, was a member of the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. On D-Day, he was the pilot of one of the 500 gliders which took off from various airfields.
Read the Ambassador’s speech: