Veteran finally awarded WWII medal

AN ESSEX veteran has finally been given a World War Two medal by the French Government - more than 60 years on.

AN ESSEX veteran has finally been given a World War Two medal by the French Government - more than 60 years on.

George Scales, 86, of Abbess Roding, near Chelmsford, was presented with the Croix de Guerre at his home this week for his part in liberating France on D-Day.

The medal was handed to him by the French Attache Naval, Capitaine de Vaisseau Jean Nicolas Gauthier, of the Ministere de la Defense, and concluded a long campaign for him to receive the honour.

His cause had been championed by Ian Baird, former head of English at Framlingham College, who, while writing a book about the former seaman, discovered that Mr Scales had been told he would be receiving the honour in 1945 but a ceremony had never taken place.

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He got in touch with former East Anglian Daily Times columnist Michael Cole, who wrote about Mr Scales in the paper last year and sent a copy to the French embassy.

Speaking after the ceremony at his home, Mr Scales thanked Mr Baird and Mr Cole for their efforts.

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He said: “He (Mr Baird) was responsible for me actually getting the thing. I had given up years and years ago. He was able to find out where the medal was and that it had been lost.”

Mr Scales was a 22-year-old Royal Navy sub-lieutenant in command of a landing craft on D-Day and his job was to land ammunition on Juno Beach, one of the five invasion sites for the allied assault.

He and his crew made repeated runs to the shore to deliver their cargo and at one point became beached on a sand bank, leaving them with no option but to unload the vessel by hand themselves, quickly removing 400 tons of vital supplies.

Mr Baird said he was going through Mr Scales' records and papers about two years ago when he found an official document informing him that he had been awarded the medal.

He said: “They don't hand this thing out for nothing and, for what he did during the war, I'm sure he deserves it.

“He's 86 years old and he's got it, better late than never. It has made him very happy.”

Mr Cole, a former BBC royal correspondent, said it was “wonderful news” that Mr Scales had finally been decorated.

He said: “(To have the attaché visit his home) is a singular honour and shows good style and grace by the Republic of France. I'm really gratified and terribly pleased for Mr Scales.”

Mr Cole said it gave him a “great deal of pleasure” to have played a small part in seeing Mr Scales rightfully presented with the medal.

He added: “It shows a good deal of sensitivity and understanding and is likely to go down very well in this country.”

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