War veteran honoured by French for bravery
A 91-year-old Second World War veteran who saw action during the Battle of Normandy has been rewarded for his bravery by the French government.
Great-grandfather Philip Ward, from West Winch, near King's Lynn, served with the 9th Parachute battalion after D-Day.
He saw action at Douzle railway station and took part in the military advance as far as Beuzeville.
The battalion was then withdrawn to the UK to regroup. He later saw action in the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge and the crossing of the river Rhine.
He ended up in Wismar on the Baltic coast at the end of the war. He later spent two years in Palestine before coming home to Britain.
He has been rewarded with the Legion d'honneur, the highest French military decoration, which he had to apply for via the British Ministry of Defence.
He received the medal, which he said he was 'very pleased' to get, at a ceremony in London attended by his second wife, Kathy, two sons, and the mayor of Merville in Normandy, Olivia Paz.
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He said: 'What I remember about the war is marching across Germany largely on foot. The French made us very welcome, but it was all new to me. I was just 18 when I was called up.
'I remember advancing in the pouring rain. I was in the machine gun platoon. We used a Vickers machine gun, which was a relic from the First World War, but was still much praised by the paras.
'Our battalion at Wismar was the first to link up with the Russians. We stopped the Germans advancing into Denmark.'
Mr Ward was born in Shingham, near Beachamwell, and went to school in Marham and Fincham. After the war he was a carpenter and joiner.
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