North Somerset World War Two Veteran to receive Legion d’Honneur award

PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 June 2017

Peter Johnson will receive the Legion d'Honneur award.

Peter Johnson will receive the Legion d'Honneur award.

Archant

A blind North Somerset World War Two veteran who helped liberate France from the Nazis has been awarded a prestigious accolade by the French Government.

Peter Johnson, of Churchill, will receive the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur for his role in the French liberation.

The 91-year-old will presented with the award by Josette Lebrat, the honorary French consulate of Bristol, on behalf of President Emmanuel Macron.

Peter said he is ‘proud’ to receive the accolade.

He added: “I’m grateful they have chosen to recognise the part I and so many others played in the liberation of France.

“At the same time I’m greatly saddened so many who died while fighting were unable to be recognised in a similar way. I am therefore receiving this medal not only for myself, but also for them.”

Peter was born in Battersea in 1925, and worked in the Royal Navy – taking him all over the world.

He landed in Normandy on D-Day on June 6, 1944, where he worked for six days escorting landing craft.

He added: “Anyone who was there and says they weren’t frightened wasn’t being truthful. We had all sorts surrounding us; submarines, Stuka bombers and E-boats.

“I saw lots of ghastly things, truly ghastly. The enemy had a very effective system by which they used to sink the ships in our convoy.

“I remember seeing ships that had been struck, they’d break in half and oil would burst into the ocean and catch fire.

“People would jump into the burning water, calling out the names of their wives and children. We tried to catch as many as we could but it was still the nastiest thing I’ve ever seen, and I witnessed it happen a few times. I had nightmares after that.”

Peter lost his sight in 2005, but he is thankful for the help he has received from Blind Veterans UK since.

He added: “They’ve provided me with scanners so I can read letters, as well as a stair lift which they donated money towards. And of course without them, I’d have never known I was eligible for the Legion d’Honneur. I’m immensely grateful for that.”


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