Bexhill war veteran Leonard presented with Legion d’Honneur

Leonard Simmonds presented with medal at Mais House, Bexhill. Photo by Margaret Garcia
Leonard Simmonds presented with medal at Mais House, Bexhill. Photo by Margaret Garcia

A war veteran has been presented with France’s highest military honour for his services in the Second World War.

Leonard Simmonds, 92, who lives at Mais House care home in Hastings Road, Bexhill, received the Legion d’Honneur medal on Friday (July 29).

Bexhill’s mayor, Simon Elford, the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Peter Field, and Captain Francoise Jean, Consul Honoraire de France, were present at the ceremony, as well as the veteran’s family and friends.

Leonard said: “I do not consider the medal as an individual award, but for the whole unit I was with during the war. They all did their best.”

Leonard was part of a radar group for the Royal Air Force (RAF), responsible for reporting the movements of all aircraft 24 hours a day.

The unit was part of the RAF Second Tactical Air Force, one of three tactical air forces within the Royal Air Force (RAF) during and after the Second World War. It was made up of squadrons and personnel from the RAF, the air forces of the British Commonwealth and exiles from Nazi-occupied Europe.

It was formed on June 1, 1943 and it took units from both Fighter Command and Bomber Command in order to form a force capable of supporting the Army in the field.

Leonard’s unit landed on Omaha beach in Normandy, France after D-Day in 1944 and returned in 1945.

Friday’s presentation was the latest in a number of ceremonies around the UK after French president, Francois Hollande pledged to honour all the surviving British veterans who had served in France.

Since June 2014, some 2,000 medals have been awarded.

In June, 90-year-old George Frost, of Sutherland Avenue, Bexhill, received the Legion d’Honneur.

He was part of the 8th (Midlands) Parachute Battalion, which fought in Operation Tonga, the British airborne landings in France on D-Day.

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