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Leicestershire WW2 veterans honoured with France's highest military honour

Credit: PA/PA Archive/PA Images

Five Second World War veterans will be honoured with France's highest award for military service at a ceremony in Leicestershire today.

The men, in their nineties, are members of the Wigston and District Branch of The Royal Naval Association. The French consul Jean Claude Lafontane will present the honours at the service in Wigston later today.

It comes after the French President announced on the 70th anniversary of D-Day in June 2014, that the Légion d'Honneur would be awarded to all British veterans who fought for the liberation of France during the Second World War between 1944 and 1945.

Find out more about the veterans below.

  • Shipmate Fred Rolf

Shipmate Fred Rolf was serving on the Destroyer HMS Milne as an Able Seaman, prior to D-Day when he was ordered to report to HMS Northney for training on landing craft, in preparation for the invasion of France in 1944.

  • Shipmate Derrick Smith
Credit: John Simpson

Shipmate Derrick Smith joined the Royal Navy at the age of 18 in 1943.

During the D-Day campaign, Derrick was serving as a Stoker within the engine room aboard the Destroyer HMS Volunteer.

  • Shipmate Richard Laland
Credit: John Simpson

Richard served in the Royal Navy from 1938 to 1946 Richard started his career as a junior rating and finished up as a Petty Officer.

He saw service in many parts of the world and particularly his time served aboard HMS Nelson, a Battleship, during the D-Day landings.

  • Shipmate Jack Coughlin
Credit: John Simpson

Shipmate Jack Coughlin served in the Royal Navy during WW11. For most of his service life he served as a Gunner aboard Merchant Ships,]. During D-day, Jack’s ship, SS Fort Slave was stationed off the British beaches ready to disembark the troops onto landing craft.

  • Shipmate Frank Evans
Credit: John Simpson

Frank worked within Naval workshops ashore and with transport and supplies backup.

As the allies advanced into Normandy, Frank’s party followed towards Caen where “Operation Anvil,” was in progress (the RAF bombing of the city).

From there they moved on through France and then into Belgium. During Frank’s travel he experienced seeing V1s and V2s flying overhead. It was when he eventually arrived at Antwerp that Frank witnessed some of the horrors and devastation caused by these weapons.