Ilkeston war hero’s medals to go on display at Erewash Museum

Ernest Turner when he was awarded the Legion D' Honeur.
Ernest Turner when he was awarded the Legion D' Honeur.

An Ilkeston war hero who was awarded France’s highest honour for his bravery during the D-Day landings is to have his medals displayed at the town’s museum.

Sgt Ernest Turner, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 92, was awarded the rank of Chevalier de la Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur (Legion of Honour) in 2016 during a presentation at Ilkeston Town Hall.

His daughter, Lesley Bamford, has now loaned his medals for a long-term display in Erewash Museum’s War Gallery and will present them on Friday, December 7 – when she will be joined by members of the local Royal British Legion branches.

Ernest was a long-time friend to the museum, loaning objects about his heroic career and family history.

He was also a long-standing member and supporter of the Royal British Legion charity in the area.

Ernest’s war service included taking part in the Normandy D-Day landings, which saw him run up Juno Beach where 2,000 men were killed by German guns.

He fought in several other Second World War battles through France and was stationed all over the world, later serving in Palestine in 1947-48.

Councillor Mike Wallis, Erewash Borough Council’s lead member for culture and leisure, said: “This is a wonderful way to honour the memory of a truly remarkable gentleman.

“Ernest was always very humble and it is with great pride that we can display his medals, all of which tell a story of incredible bravery.

“It is much more than a salute to his memory, these medals are part of history and it will be particularly special for our many young visitors to see them.

“We would like to thank his family for kindly loaning his medals to Erewash Museum.”

Speaking to the ‘Tiser when he was presented with the Legion d’Honneur in 2016, Ernest said he could write a book with all the stories he had from his war days but felt ‘embarrassed’ by all the attention.

A letter from the French Embassy informing Ernest that he was to receive the country’s top honour told him that France ‘must never forget those, like you, who came from Britain and the Commonwealth to begin the liberation of Europe by liberating France. We owe our freedom and security to your dedication’.

Ernest continued to visit France and Belgium whenever he could.