French medal for Weston war veteran

Veteran Joe Thomas with his Legion D'Honneur.

Veteran Joe Thomas with his Legion D'Honneur. - Credit: Archant

A 90-YEAR-OLD Weston-super-Mare veteran has been awarded another medal to add to his collection.

Joseph Thomas, of Earlham Grove, has been given the Legion d’Honneur for his involvement in the liberation of France in World War Two.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings, the French Government is giving the medal to all surviving veterans.

Joseph, who served in the 4th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry regiment, said: “I remember crossing the river – we got stuck and there was gunfire all around us. It was terrifying.”

Joseph has lived in Weston all his life and has three children with wife Dorothy, aged 87, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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His daughter Debbie said: “We are all very proud of him.”

After the war Joseph went to work for a building firm in Bridgwater before setting up his own painting and decorating business.

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In later life he was a lollipop man outside Ashcombe School for 11 years until the age of 85 – becoming the oldest lollipop man in Weston.

Although pleased to receive the medal, Joseph lamented its late arrival and wished more of his friends were alive to get theirs. He said: “They ought to have given it to us years ago, there’s not many of us left.

“I have fond memories of my comrades.”

He still stays in touch with the widows of his former comrades and has often visited the cemetery in Ypres.

Joseph said he believes it is vital for young people to be taught about the war, and said: “I think everybody should know what went on, it’s important to remember.”

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