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Chester World War Two veteran awarded France’s highest honour

Geoffrey Telford is recognised for his heroic role in the liberation of France

Geoffrey Dennis Telford was one of the British heroes awarded the Legion dHonneur a medal recognising his involvement in the 1945 French Liberation during the Second World War.

A 96-year-old World War II veteran who lives in Chester has been awarded France’s highest honour for bravery.

Geoffrey Dennis Telford was one of the British heroes awarded the Legion d’Honneur – a medal recognising his involvement in the 1945 French Liberation during the Second World War.

Risking his life for European Liberation, Mr Telford was appointed to the rank of Chevalier in the Ordre national de la Legion d’Honneur by the President of the Republic on Monday, October 19.

The former tank driver from Manchester who now lives in Chester said he received his medal through the post last Friday with a letter congratulating him on the high honour.

“It was an honour to receive this medal but I don’t want to make a big deal about it,” he said.

“People call us heroes, but I don’t see it that way, I’m just a man who did a job.

“I received the honour for my two brothers and all the other people who died during the war.

“My brothers deserved it more than I did – they did a lot more than me.”

Related: Use our search tool to find people from Cheshire who died in the Second World War

The award was initiated by Napoleon Bonaparte on 19 May 1802.

The British war hero said he knew he was going to receive the award after being nominated for the honour last December.

“It took a long time to come through, it’s 70 years too late though,” he said.

Serving six and a half years through the war, Mr Telford said it was a shocking time to live through.

He said “I was called up in 1939 just after the war broke out, it started in the September and I was there by the October.

“I was only 20 years old – my youth was gone.

“It was very hard not seeing my brothers, we were a close family.”

Near misses

Mr Telford told the Chronicle about a time where he had a lucky escape from death during his time in the war.

He said: “I had some very near misses when I was on the front line.

“I lay down on the ground one night to take a nap, it was the early hours of the morning so it was very dark.

“As I woke up, I seen a shrapnel lying just above my head.

“I was very lucky, but they do say the devil looks after his own.

“It was a bad time for everyone, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy – nobody wins a war but I did make some very good friends.

“I don’t like to make a big deal, I did my little bit like millions of other people.

“I was just one of the lucky ones who survived.”

Related: World War II veteran from Chester dies aged 93

On leaving the army he settled in Manchester with his wife of 71 years, Muriel who sadly passed away three years ago.

“She was a darling my Muriel, she was so beautiful and so understanding. I miss her dearly, it’s not easy,” he said.

During his time in Manchester, he went on to work for the Regent Oil company, now known as Texaco for 30 years before moving to London.

Thirty years later, Mr Telford moved back up north, and settled in Chester, where he has been for four years.

He said: “Muriel loved it in Chester.

“I have some wonderful memories of her.

“I will never forget the day I came home from war. Muriel was there waiting for me on the platform as I stepped off the train.

“It was heaven, it was everything I could have wished for.”

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