On D-Day 1944 Able Seaman Cyril Gillard was aboard HMS Tartar which was tasked with preventing enemy ships entering the Normandy landing areas. Seventy years later the President of France announced the award of the country’s highest distinction, the Légion d’honneur, to al British veterans who fought for the Liberation of France.
This was presented to Cyril on 11 November 2015 by the French Honorary Consul, Mme Aude Auclair at a relatively private ceremony.
His friends and fellow members of the Neston British Legion wanted him to know how proud they were of him and his involvement in such a significant period of the history of Britain and France. So with the precision of planning to be expected from ex-servicemen, they ensured that he came along to the regular Saturday dance wearing hiss medal. But what he wasn’t expecting was to be joined by his family, including grandchildren, to receive the tribute from all his friends.
I felt privileged to be able to shake his hand and say a few words of appreciation.