D-day landing veterans receive legion D'Honneur

REUNION: Among the many thousands of allied forces involved in the D-Day landings in Normandy were many from Northern Ireland who played key roles in the air, sea and land PICTURE: Justin Kernoghan
Lesley-Anne McKeown

Veteran war heroes from Northern Ireland have been recognised for their bravery during the D-Day landings.

Some 23 former servicemen, now all pensioners, were awarded the Legion d'Honneur – France's highest honour – during a special ceremony at Thiepval barracks in Lisburn, Co Antrim.

Medals were presented to 17 of them by Regine McCullough, France's Honorary Consul in the region.

Among those recognised was soldier Thomas Asher, from Magherafelt in Co Londonderry, who followed the Allied advance through Holland and Belgium.

The honour was also bestowed on Flight Lieutenant William Eames from Lisburn, an air bomber who delivered troops near the Orne Canal in the early hours of D-Day and who flew on night-supply drops across France, as well as Royal Navy Midshipman Ian Lasbrey from Belfast, who provided artillery support to troops and engaged with the coastal batteries at Cherbourg on June 25, 1944.

D-Day marked a major turning point in the Second World War.

Tens of thousands of Allied forces, carried on the largest armada ever seen, landed on five beaches across Normandy on June 6, 1944 for a major offensive against the Nazis.

Thousands of paratroopers were also dropped behind enemy lines.

Although 4,000 men were killed during the operation, codenamed Overloard, Adolf Hitler was defeated 11 months later.

The National Order of the Legion of Honour was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 and is the highest decoration in France.

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