Veteran receives France’s top military medal

The Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, The Countess of Euston, presents the Legion d'honneur to Tom Babiste

The Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, The Countess of Euston, presents the Legion d'honneur to Tom Babister - Credit: Archant

A D-Day veteran has been honoured by the French government for his role in liberating the country and helping to win the Second World War.

The French Legion d'honneur medal

The French Legion d'honneur medal - Credit: Archant

Tom Babister was awarded the highest decoration in France for his part in the Normandy landings, 71 years ago.

The Legion of Honour, or Légion d’honneur, was presented to Mr Babister by the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare Countess of Euston, at a special ceremony in Fressingfield, near Halesworth.

Only about 100,000 have ever been awarded since the order of merit was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.

The presentation coincided with an annual Christmas get-together and prize draw for the Fressingfield branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL), in the village’s sports and social club.

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County vice-chairman, Ken Rowbottom said: “A large gathering of members and supporters were present – not only to enjoy the social aspect of our annual event, but more importantly, to witness the formal presentation of the Légion d’honneur to Tom Babister, one of our senior branch members.

“It was decided that this decoration merited something more formal, and at relatively short notice, we were able to invite the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, The Countess of Euston, to agree to, and subsequently present this auspicious award. This gave an added impetus to make the evening into a special occasion.

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“In addition to the formal presentation, the Countess of Euston kindly agreed to offer her congratulations to Geraint Castleton-White, one of our newest members, who completed his first ever half marathon in October, in memory of his father Jack White, a branch member who died earlier during year. Geraint managed to raise a figure in excess of £2,000, which will be given to the RBL welfare fund.

“After the presentation and congratulations, the Lord Lieutenant then spent her time introducing herself and chatting with as many people as possible. Her kind gesture was much appreciated by everyone.

“Our Year finished on a high note. Next year we will be as busy as ever.”

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