Friday, January 22, 2010

Commemorative Award to Normandy Veterans

Normandy Veterans Association Badge
(Photograph used by courtesy of the former NVA)


The Normandy Council for Veterans is based in Caen, Calvados (Normandy), France. In June 2009, coinciding with the 65th Anniversary of the Normandy Landings, known surviving veterans were awarded a commemorative ‘bar’ (or badge). Many Normandy Veterans made the pilgrimage to Normandy for the commemorations and a number of ceremonies were arranged to honour the veterans.

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2 Comments:

Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Those veterans who were able to travel to Normandy for the final formal 'get-together' of Normandy Veterans on French soil had their medals presented to them by one of the French civic leaders. To the French, as to with Belgians, the Dutch and those from other Western European countries the Allied veteran service men and women who helped liberate their land in 1944 and 1945 are true heroes and heroines. Many people from these countries of NW Europe believe that the effort and sacrifice of the service veterans who liberated their country from tyranny should be honoured and remembered.

The names of some UK veterans of the Normandy campaign I know were, unfortunately, not submitted to the French authorities in time to be presented to coincide with the anniversary of the Normandy Landings. These veterans had previously belonged to the West Cumbria Branch of the N.V.A.. This branch had disbanded a year earlier - in June 2008 – mainly because of the age and infirmities of many of the members.

Nevertheless, all was not lost. When it was realised some of our 'local heroes' had been accidentally missed off the medal list Madame Sadine Cordonne of the Normandy Council for Veterans was contacted. The French authorities were obviously keen to see qualifying recipients should receive the commemorative award. In these instances the application would need to be made through a Member of Parliament and hence on to the French authorities. Subsequently, with the assistance of the office of Jamie Reed M.P. for Copeland the commemorative awards were eventually made to the West Cumbria group of veterans.

Eventually, in January 2010 a short ceremony was held in West Cumbria so that Mr Reed could present the veterans with the Normandy commemorative bar and a citation certificate. There was also a short thanksgiving ceremony led by the Reverend John Bannister, who had acted as Chaplain to the West Cumbria Branch of the Normandy Veterans for a number of years.

We remember the ultimate sacrifice of the Fallen and their families at Remembrance time in November each year, and these people should not be forgotten. In Britain, until recent years, there has been a tendency to overlook the efforts of surviving service veterans and other civilian groups from the war years and the post war years.

However, the introduction of a national ‘Veterans Day’ by the British government in the past few years has rightly redressed this to some extent. Britain has increasingly begun to realise the debt owed to former service personnel, not just those who served in the two World Wars but in more recent times even to the present day. So there is a time a place to honour surviving veterans. This presentation of a French medal award in January 2010 affords one such opportunity for everyone to say "Thank You" to a real West Cumbrian 'Band of Brothers'!

Other branches of the NVA disbanded in 2009. The 65th anniversary commemorations in Normandy were probably the last big ‘get-together’ of those who served in that campaign. Nevertheless, the record and memory of what happened will live on long into the future.

Friday, 22 January, 2010  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

About the Normandy Veterans Badge

The Normandy Veterans Badge is rather poignant when one considers what it comprises. The date seen on the badge (1944) is of course the year of the Normandy Landings. The golden colour used for the background and lettering represents the sandy beaches of Normandy where the amphibious landings took place. The blue represents the skies above Normandy, used by the airborne troops and Allied Air Forces in the summer of 1944. The red colour used in the badge is the colour of the blood lost on the Normandy Beaches.

Tuesday, 26 January, 2010  

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