Brackley Veteran honoured by French government
Bill Grantham, of Bridgewater Road, turns 92 this month and was flanked by Brackley mayor Cllr Fiona Baker, and SNC chairman, Cllr Caryl Billingham, during a special event to celebrate the fact he had been awarded the Chevalier of the Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur.
The mayor and chairman were joined by around a dozen fellow councillors, Mr Grantham’s family, and members of the Royal British Legion for the event.
Mr Grantham said: “I was overwhelmed really. I never thought I would end up with the medal, and if it wasn’t for the RBL I wouldn’t have got it.
“The council put on a lovely event for me and I was proud to be congratulated in front of my family.”
The Légion d’Honneur is the highest military and civic decoration in France, which the French government has been awarding to veterans who took part in the D-Day Landings, risking their lives to secure the liberation of France in the Second World War.
Mr Grantham was born in Fringford, near Buckingham. For 36 years after the war he drove for the London Brick Company in Calvert, before moving to Brackley in 2004.
But it was in the summer of 1944 that Mr Grantham earned the honour.
He was a dispatch rider for the Royal Artillery, ferrying vital messages between headquarters during the important weeks after D-Day.
The event was the last to be held in Brackley Town Hall, ahead of a major restoration project.
Cllr Baker said the occasion was particularly important to her as her own father had been a D-Day dispatch rider and added: “It was an honour to be asked to give the award to Billy, in recognition of his bravery, as it was people like him who risked their lives to give us the freedoms that we enjoy today.”
Cllr Billingham, who is also an RBL member said: “Although the people of Britain suffered terrible hardships during the Second World War, we were fortunate not to be an occupied territory.
“I have spoken to French, Dutch and Belgian people who lived under occupation, and their sense of gratitude to allied troops continues right up to this day. It is very fitting that France should have seen fit to make these awards to all those involved in the D-Day landings, in which my late father also took part.”