Veteran rewarded for brave service

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A 91-year-old Long Eaton resident has been rewarded with a high honour for his outstanding service during World War Two.

The president of France has recently awarded war veteran Ken Godfrey the rank of Chevalier in the Order National de la Legion d’Honneur.

This high honour is presented in recognition of his military engagement and involvement in the liberation of France during World War Two.

Earlier in his army career, he was also commended by his commanding officer for his bravery and outstanding good work for his service while in France and Belgium.

Ken joined the army shortly after his 18th birthday in 1943 and was recruited into the ‘A Company’ of the First and Fourth Hallamshire Battalion of the Yorkshire/Lancaster regiment.

After intense training on the Isle of Bute in Scotland and in Suffolk, the battalion, which was known as the Polar Bears, took part in the Normandy landings on June 9 1944 as part of the second phase landing on the beaches.

They immediately engaged the enemy in the battle for Caen, an important port in the operation.

Over several months, Ken’s battalion fought through France and Belgium and at the river bridge on the Rhine at Arnhem.

Then they went into Holland, where the most severe battles were fought.

Arriving near to Utrecht on Victory in Europe (VE) Day, they were told that the war was over but nobody told the enemy and they kept firing for a day or two.

Ken elected to be presented with his award with his friends, who are members of the Wiltshire branch of the Normandy Veterans Association, rather than in Long Eaton.

He said: “It was a difficult decision to make, because although I have many friends here in the world of theatre and the British Legion, I think I owed my service comrades my presence at the presentation.”