Banbury area D-Day veteran recognised for service during WWII

A Banbury area RAF veteran received an award from the Netherlands government for his service during World War II.

Dutch military Attaché Gerrit Nijenhuis presented RAF veteran Ken Handley, from Cropredy, with the Liberators Medal (photo taken by Banbury RBL member Peter Hill)
Dutch military Attaché Gerrit Nijenhuis presented RAF veteran Ken Handley, from Cropredy, with the Liberators Medal (photo taken by Banbury RBL member Peter Hill)

A representative of the Netherlands government presented RAF veteran Ken Handley, who is from Cropredy, with the Liberators Medal. Mr Handley received the medal in recognition of the part he played in the liberation of the Dutch people in the final year of World War II. The Dutch military Attaché travelled to Cropredy from London to make the presentation on Wednesday September 1.

Captain RNLN Gerrit Nijenhuis, Naval Attaché at the embassy in London, spoke eloquently of the role played by Mr. Handley, and the gratitude of his people, before presenting him with his medal and a certificate. He clearly relished the opportunity to chat to him and learn more about his experiences.

Mr. Handley thanked Captain. Nijenhuis and spoke of his admiration for the courage and determined resistance shown by the people of the Netherlands under German occupation.

RAF veteran Ken Handley, from Cropredy, received the Liberators Medal for his service during WWII (photo taken by Banbury RBL member Peter Hill)

Mr. Handley was only 20 when he travelled to Normandy in the wake of the D-Day landings in 1944, as part of a fully armed RAF signals unit. Tasked with giving communications support to air forces as they advanced, Mr. Handley's unit was attached to the Canadian forces.

Advancing through France and Belgium, by December 1944 they were in the Netherlands facing appalling weather conditions and extreme cold and seeing action in Breda, Antwerp and in the decisive Battle of the Bulge.

Smartly turned out in uniform, with medals on display, Mr. Handley belied his 97 years. To suggestions from Captain Nijenhuis that he should write a book about his experiences he indicated that this was already a work in progress.

Chris Adams, the chair of the RAF Association in Banbury, said: "RAFA Banbury Branch & Club are proud of you Ken and thanks your for your service.

"A big thanks to Chris Smithson for arranging a RBL presence and our gratitude also goes out to Peter Hill for representing the local Veterans Community on this special occasion."