Sheffield war veteran receives his Legion d'Honneur medal more than 70 years after Battle of Normandy

A brave Second World War veteran has been presented with France's highest military distinction in a moving ceremony at Sheffield Town Hall.

Tuesday, 13th February 2018, 12:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th February 2018, 1:00 pm
93-year-old Cyril Calton pictured with l-r Jack Mitchell, Colin Cranswick, Lord Mayor of Sheffield Anne Murphy, Jean Claude Lafontaine, French Consol and Tim Humphreys, at the Town Hall, during his Legion d'Honneur presentation. Picture: Marie Caley

Cyril Calton, 93, dedicated his Legion d'Honneur - awarded to him in recognition for his efforts in securing France's liberation during the battles at Normandy - to those who lost their lives in the battle.

Mr Calton, who served five years as a member of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, was presented with his medal by French Honorary Consultant Jean-Claude La Fontaine during the ceremony hosted by the Lord Mayor Coun Anne Murphy.

Cyril Calton pictured aged 18.

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"It was a fantastic day and I enjoyed it very much," Mr Calton, of Pitsmoor, said.

"I was only 19 when I got called up but I never really think about my time in the forces. We had to do it, it wasn't just me - there were thousands of us and I was one of the lucky ones who made it through. This award is for all those who didn't."

Great grandfather of six Mr Calton joined the Army in 1943 and was initially sent to Iceland before fighting in Italy for two months - only to find out he should have been sent to join KOYLI in Normandy.

The machine gunner was injured in battle in Tessle Wood and had to be shipped back to Liverpool for treatment to a wound on his shoulder.

Cyril Calton pictured aged 18.

Mr Calton said: "I was in the hospital for three weeks and then they sent me back and I was lucky to make it right through to the end.

"Before I got wounded I was laid in a trench and got down as low as I could and I saw a figure move so I sat up and shot and I ended up shooting him right in the head."

Mr Calton married his wife Joyce when he returned from the forces in 1945 and went on to be a bus driver for 16 years before becoming a caretaker at Firs Hill School and Shooters Grove Infant School in Stannington.

He added: "The French ambassador presented me with my medal and he said how much they appreciated what we did for them as a country."

The medal ceremony followed a number of others that have taken place around the UK since the 70th anniversary of D-Day in June 2014, when French President François Hollande pledged to honour all British veterans who had served in France during the war.

France has so far decorated more than 4,300 D-Day veterans across the UK. The National Order of the Legion of Honour (Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur) is the highest French order for military and civil merits, established in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte.