A Bunbury man has received the highest honour for the role he played in the liberation of France during the Second World War.
Bill Corn was appointed Chevalier in the Ordre national de la Legion d’honneur for the part he played in the D-Day landings in June 1944.
The ceremony took place at the Dysart Arms in Bunbury on Friday, January 20 with his friends, family and members of the Bunbury branch of the Royal British Legion.
As soon as he was old enough, Bill volunteered to join the 8th Battalion of The Cheshire Regiment in May 1940 and he was based at Harrowby Drill Hall in Birkenhead. Sadly, the 8th Battalion never got to full strength, so it was disbanded and Bill found himself in the Kings Liverpool Regiment and on a draft to go to the Far East.
A damaged knee not only frustrated his wish to join the Parachute Regiment, it also made him unfit for service in the Far East which probably saved his life, as many of his friends never made it back from that theatre.
Bill was transferred from the Kings Liverpool to the Royal Army Service Corps and he spent the next few years ferrying supplies all over the United Kingdom.
In June 1944 he was ready to go ashore on Juno beach alongside the Canadians which, according to Bill was a bit of luck, because the Canadians had better food.
He actually went ashore on D-Day+4 and when Bill was talking about his experiences and surrounded by memorabilia, he outlined what it was actually like with lots of shouting and noise.
Bill stayed with the Canadians until Caen was taken and he then spent the rest of the war driving with the advancing forces up through France and on into Germany, ending up in Stettin on the Baltic coast in the Russian Zone.
In the course of his travels, Bill saw some harrowing sights. Attached to the Field Ambulance Service he took part in transporting some of the inmates of the Ravensbruck women’s concentration camp after its liberation as well as inmates from the infamous Belsen concentration camp when he was.
Bill came home in 1946 and he was awarded the 1939-45 Star, the France and Germany Star, the Defence Medal, the War Medal and the Canadian Normandy Medal.
Bill also proudly wears his father’s medal from the Boer War and in his pocket a treasured memento - the watch that he carried throughout his war service.
His appointment was carried out by group captain the Reverend Mike Rogers OBE RAF (retired), president of the Bunbury branch of the RBL who said: “It is a great honour for me, on behalf of the President of France and the people of France to be able to pin the Legion d’ Honneur to your chest, as a mark of gratitude and in recognition of the part you played in France and the French nation regaining its freedom from oppression in the dark days of the 1940s.”
Bill thanked Madame Sylvie Bermann (Ambassade De France), the President of France and the people of France for this recognition of those who were involved in the liberation of France from the tyrany of Nazi occupation.