Chapel-en-le-Frith war veteran, aged 91, is awarded the Legion d’Honneur

Bill Gwilliam.
Bill Gwilliam.

A Chapel-en-le-Frith man has been awarded the Legion d’Honneur by the French Government for the part he played in the liberation of France in World War Two.

Bill Gwilliam, 91, was presented with his award by the French Honorary Consulate along with 12 other veterans of the conflict who all became Chevaliers, or Knights, of the order.

The ceremony was held in front of an audience of friends and family, including Bill’s wife Marina and his two daughters, at Chester University.

Bill’s daughter, Alison Blount, said: “It was a very poignant ceremony with many of the veterans speaking movingly about their time in France and remembering those who did not return.”

Bill, of Manchester Road, was just 19-years-old when he landed in France during the Normandy Landings as part of the Reconnaissance Corps.

He was involved in fighting across France before being badly wounded in Belgium.

After treatment he returned to rejoin the troops in Germany.

The Legion of Honour, also known as the National Order of the Legion of Honour, is the highest French order for military and civil merits. It was established 1802.

The order is divided into five degrees of increasing distinction, including Officer, Commander, Grand Officer and Grand’Croix.

While the President of the French Republic is the Grand Master of the Order, day-to-day running is entrusted to the Grand Chancery.

The order has a maximum quota of 113,425 Knights and as of 2010 the actual membership was 74,384.

Appointments of World War Two veterans, as well as wounded soldiers, are made independently of the quota.