To mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings, the government of France has advised the Ministry of Defence that it wishes to award the Légion d’Honneur to all surviving veterans who fought in the campaign for the liberation of France, which began on the 6 June 1944.
The Légion d’Honneur was established to recognise outstanding individual merit and is France’s top accolade for an elite group of people who distinguish themselves through civilian or military valour.
As you may be aware, I have been pushing the government to ensure that all cases put forward are considered in a timely manner. In recent written and oral Parliamentary Questions the government revealed that since 6 June 2014 around 3,850 applications from Normandy veterans have been submitted. Of these 3,300 had been sent to the French authorities by April this year. Since July 2015, 100 cases per week have been re-submitted to the French authorities by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). A dramatic improvement on previous numbers.
The MOD officials understand that around 150 awards had been made by the beginning of July and that approximately 950 additional awards have been approved; of those the MOD believe that about 600 may have been sent out.
It is a tremendous honour bestowed upon our veterans by the French government and I welcome the French authorities’ decision to award our brave servicemen their highest honour.
I welcome the news that applications are being expedited as, sadly, some awards were not being delivered to our elderly servicemen in time. However, the new system put in place by the MOD has dramatically improved the situation.
I hope that we can sustain this campaign to continue to raise awareness of the availability of the Légion d’Honneur for veterans of the French liberation campaign. With the new government application process in place the process is quicker and easier than ever before.