WAR VETERAN’S DYING WISH IS HONOURED AT LAST
A WORLD War 2 hero and former prisoner of war has finally received his long awaited Legion d’Honneur medal as he lay seriously ill in Southport hospital.
Ninety-two-year-old Ernest Jones was presented with his medal of honour by the Lord Mayor of Sefton in a special ceremony on Tuesday, June 21, as the war veteran fought his own personal battle for survival after suffering a serious stroke.
Ernest’s family had asked the office of Southport MP, John Pugh, to urgently fast track the pensioner’s application for the Legion d’Honneur after he fell ill earlier this year.
Now, despite fears for his health, the heroic Ainsdale war veteran and former prisoner of war in Germany’s infamous Moosburg Stalag, managed to raise enough energy to kiss his long awaited commendation three times in a highly moving ceremony at his bedside.
Ernest fought with the 15th Scottish Division in Normandy June 1944 as an infantry gunner. During his time in action he took part in Operation Epsom - an offensive intended to outflank and seize the German-occupied city of Caen in Normandy.
Later on during the Allied advance campaign Ernest crossed into Holland where he was unfortunately shot and captured by German troops in the town of Best. Cont. inside
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Despite originally being listed as Missing In Action, Ernest was held as a prisoner of war at Moosburg Stalag until it was liberated in 1945.
Speaking to the Champion, his daughter, Christine Rice, said it was a momentous occasion for Ernest to finally receive the medal he has waited more than 70 years for.
She said: “Ernest is very ill at the moment and hasn’t got very long to go. He took a fall in April and eventually left hospital but after ten days at home he became ill again, suffering a stroke as he waited to go home from hospital for the second time.
“The doctors have said he does not have very long to go so it was incredible for him to receive the Legion d’Honneur which he has been waiting so long for.
“This is the highest honour that France can bestow and when he received it he was able to know what it was and managed to kiss the medal three times.
“It is very important to him and to us for Ernest to receive the Legion d’Honneur – especially to honour all those who did not make it home.
“Last week my parents celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary – in fact just two weeks after marrying my mum he was in Normandy fighting on the frontline.
“At this point he was assigned to the Glasgow Highlanders and became part of the famous 15th Scottish Infantry Division – acknowledged to be one of the finest fighting divisions in Normandy.
“Along with his best friend Ron they operated the Bren gun and fought along the Odon Valley near to Caen before crossing the Seine north of Paris.
“In Holland he was shot and captured – seeing his best friend die alongside him – and became a POW ending up in Stalag VIIA near Munich.
“For the last 32 years, mum and dad have lived quietly in Ainsdale enjoying ballroom dancing at the Floral Hall and other venues.”
MP case worker and Ainsdale Councillor Lynn Thompson took on Ernest’s application earlier this year to see if the government could fast track the medal.
Lynn told The Champion: “We are delighted that Ernest has finally received the Legion d’Honneur.”