NORMANDY Day UK Founder Dennis Davison has been presented with France’s highest military honour, the Légion d’honneur, on his 93rd birthday.
Dennis, a Normandy veteran, was presented with the award at Coventry Council House.
The award was presented by Honorary Consul for France Robert Mille. The ceremony was also attended by Deputy Lieutenant David Burbidge OBE, Deputy Lord Mayor Councillor Lindsley Harvard and Geoffrey Robinson MP.
Among the guests was Melissa Teece, Village Activity Facilitator at Earlsdon Park Retirement Village in Coventry. Dennis, who lives in Coventry, is looking forward to moving to the village when it opens this summer. She said: ‘We are all very proud of Dennis and I felt honoured to be with him when he received the award.’
It has been a remarkable year for Dennis, a father of four, a grandfather of one and great grandfather to three. He received a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for 2016 and will visit Buckingham Palace in May.
“I feel proud and humbled to be awarded the Légion d’honneur,” said Dennis.
Dennis was just 19 when he was posted to the Royal Army Service Corps.
He remembers training for D-Day, camping on the North Yorkshire Moors in January: “It was hard but you still had to have a crease in your trousers and turn out on parades spick and span.”
“One of the most poignant moments I can remember was on the South Downs just before D-Day. All the regiments were there, thousands of men.
“They said the Lord’s Prayer, there was a blessing and then we were off to battle.”
On D-Day he was at the embarkation point in Newhaven. ‘
He added: “We could see the gunfire, see the battle, see the explosions.”
Dennis is Chair of Normandy Day UK, a Coventry based charity which aims educate people about the impact of war and the sacrifices made by all service people, in particular those made at the landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944.
He added: “Once you have been a soldier and been on active service it never goes away. You never forget,’ he said. ‘I think about it every single day. It’s always in the back of your mind.”
Dennis received the British Empire Medal for services to Second World War commemoration and memorialisation.