D-Day veteran from Feltwell given Legion d’honneur for brave actions

John Ryan from Feltwell was given the Legion D'Honneur for his services during World War Two, he was

John Ryan from Feltwell was given the Legion D'Honneur for his services during World War Two, he was in the Parachute Regiment and dropped behind enemy lines on D-Day. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

A 92-year-old Second World War veteran who was dropped behind enemy lines on D-Day has been rewarded for his bravery by the French government.

John Ryan from Feltwell was given the Legion D'Honneur for his services during World War Two, he was

John Ryan from Feltwell was given the Legion D'Honneur for his services during World War Two, he was in the Parachute Regiment and dropped behind enemy lines on D-Day. John is pictured when he joined the regiment. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

John Ryan, from Feltwell, was a teenager when he signed up and 20 when his platoon of the Parachute Regiment was dropped at Ranville, the first village to be liberated in the landings on June 6, 1944.

Braving gunfire, Mr Ryan helped protect strategically important bridges which allowed equipment to be transported into German territory.

Now he has been rewarded with the Legion d'honneur, the highest French military decoration.

He said it was an honour.

'It's wonderful to have some recognition and it's the highest French award for bravery, so it means a lot to me,' he added.

Following the landings, Mr Ryan returned to England with his platoon to test a cache of German explosives which had been captured.

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But three of the group of 18 were killed when the explosives went off during testing, signalling the end of Mr Ryan's war.

Having returned home to Methwold, he went on to run two bed-and-breakfast businesses in Cromer until his retirement.

He said his time in the war had 'made' him after leading an idyllic life in rural Norfolk.

'I was 14 when the war started and all I wanted was to join up, and do what my father had done.

'I was frightened it would end before I had the chance to serve.

'It seems silly now, but it really made me who I am,' he said.

The French government has been awarding the Legion d'honneur to D-Day veterans for several years, as a way of honouring and thanking those who fought and risked their lives.

The award is normally reserved for French nationals with at least 20 years of military service.

British veterans apply for the award via the British Ministry of Defence, before being endorsed by the French government.

Several medal ceremonies, presided over by the French Ambassador to the UK, have taken place in recent years, with more than 2,000 medals being awarded since 2014.

Have you been given a military award? Let us know by emailing andrew.fitchett@archant.co.uk

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