The heroes who served and fell on D-Day were commemorated at a poignant service and reception in Edinburgh today (Thursday, 6th June), marking the 75th anniversary of the iconic landings. Several Scottish veterans who battled through Normandy during that pivotal period of the Second World War were honoured at an emotional ceremony.
Taking place at The French Consulate in the heart of the nation’s capital and organised by Armed Forces charity Legion Scotland and The French Consulate General, the event was attended by around 15 D-Day veterans, serving personnel, various dignitaries and Graeme Dey, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans.
During the service, the Knight of the Légion d’Honneur Cross – which is the highest French order of merit for military and civil endeavours – was presented on behalf of the President of the French Republic by the Consul General of France to the veterans who served on D-Day and were part of the subsequent liberation of France. Since June 2014, more than 5,800 medals have been awarded.
Four veterans of D-Day received the Cross. They were: Leonard Humphrey; Eric Tandy; David Livingston; and David Duguid. A modest Mr Humphrey, 94, who now lives in Blairgowrie, said: “I was very honoured to receive the Cross… but this is all too much publicity for me. Compared to others, I had a very easy war, really. After today, it would be nice to meet more veterans from that time if I can.”
Veteran Richard John William Honour, 98, from Comley Bank, who was deployed to Normandy in 1944 before advancing through France and Belgium, undertook a reading at the service which was conducted by the Reverend Dr Karen K Campbell, the National Padre of Legion Scotland. Music was provided by Legion Scotland signing sweetheart Amy Hawthorn along with performances by the Band of HM Royal Marines Scotland and Combined Cadet Force pupils from Edinburgh Academy.
Dr Claire Armstrong, Chief Executive of Legion Scotland, said: “D-Day was a pivotal moment in the Second World War. Today’s service provided us with an important reminder of both the bravery and tragedy which surrounds that day, and it was a poignant and historic moment to witness the presentation of the Knight of the Légion d’Honneur Cross to more of our remarkable veterans.”
Dr Armstrong added: “Legion Scotland is committed to providing comradeship for those in the Armed Forces community and to ensuring the memory of those who fell in service to our country is remembered forever. It will be an honour and a privilege to host these incredible gentlemen, and to recognise the immense contribution of an entire generation.”
Graeme Dey, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans, said: “It was an honour to be able to represent the Scottish Government at the commemoration this morning, marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Today’s service allowed us a great opportunity to show our heartfelt gratitude to all those who were involved on that day, and I was especially touched to see the veterans in attendance receive the Légion d’Honneur in recognition of their service; something I know we will all agree is so richly deserved.”
D-Day on the 6th of June 1944 was the largest amphibious invasion in history and is a pivotal date in the story of the Second World War. Codenamed ‘Overlord’, the operation saw a massive military force set out from the UK towards France. By this point in the conflict, Germany had taken over nearly the whole of Europe. The Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy and started to break through German defences. They began an attack that lasted for almost a year and took them all the way to the German capital Berlin and victory.