France honours Aussie heroes at RAAF Amberley
TEN veterans from around Queensland gathered at RAAF Base Amberley yesterday to be knighted by French Ambassador Christophe Lecourtier.
The men, who helped free German-occupied France from Nazi control in the Second World War, were presented with the Legion d'Honneur in a moving ceremony at the base.
French Ambassador Christophe Lecourtier spoke to the veterans and their families before awarding them with the medal.
"The Legion d'Honneur was created by Napolean a little more than 200 years ago. Since that time the awarding of this medal is the most solemn and moving manner for France to pay tribute to remarkable men, women, citizens of France and around the world," he said.
"It is sometimes said that war is the business of men but in your case, honourable veterans, it was the business of adolesent youth.
"When you signed up only some of you had reached the age of 20. In 1944, the year that bought you to France, you entered legend and became heroes.
"You were no longer fighters, you had become for us, heroes. You had become the spirit of resistence, liberty and mateship.
"We in France have not forgotten and we in France remain grateful."
John Flint was one of the 10 veterans honoured at the ceremony at Amberley.
Mr Flint, originally from England, joined the Royal Navy in 1942 and was one of the first to arrive on the ground at Juno Beach during the Normandy Landings on D-Day.
He said he was moved by the ambassador's address and that having his nine commrades by his side meant even more.
"It's overwhelming really," he said.
"It's nice the people of France still appreciate what we did.
"We beat them in the end."