Bletchley Park codebreaker awarded France's highest honour in Dorset

Lorna Cockayne arrives with her son Steve. Credit: PA Images

One of the last surviving Bletchley Park Second World War Wren codebreakers has been presented with France's highest honour.

Lorna Cockayne was given the Legion d'honneur by the highest ranking female officer in the Royal Navy, Commodore Judith "Jude" Terry, at a presentation ceremony held in Ferndown, Dorset.

The 96-year-old, from Mudeford, Christchurch, was trained to use the Colossus computers at Bletchley Park to crack German codes, after joining the Women's Royal Navy Service (Wrens) in 1943.

WATCH: Lorna Cockayne explains how honoured she felt to receive the medal.

She said: "I am overwhelmed with all these people and the whole day is amazing.

"I was one of 600 Wrens working day and night trying to sort out the jigsaw puzzle that was Bletchley Park. We didn't know what we were doing and it wasn't for years later that I discovered exactly what we were doing, it was just the secrecy of Bletchley Park."

WWII veteran, 96-year-old Lorna Cockayne, who served in the Women's Royal Naval Service. Credit: PA Images

Mrs Cockayne said that because of security, she was not informed of how important her role had been.

She said: "Nobody told us, except that we were trying to get the messages through - no, we didn't know what we were doing, but that was security, if you don't know you can't tell anybody."

Describing how she feels about her time there, she said: "Amazing - I am still learning more about the Bletchley Park because it was a huge, great organisation."

Lorna Cockayne chats with others before receiving her award. Credit: PA Images

On the 70th anniversary of D-Day in June 2014, the French president announced that the Legion d'honneur would be awarded to all British veterans who fought for the liberation of France during the Second World War.

Steve Cockayne, the youngest of Mrs Cockayne's three children, said: "I feel immensely proud - she is very humble about all of this and really didn't want a big show, but I persuaded her to accept the medal on behalf of all the Wrens who can't be here because they all did tremendous work at Bletchley Park."

Lorna Cockayne pauses for a photo with the Legion d'honneur after receiving it during a ceremony at the Pear at Parley in Ferndown. Credit: PA Images

The ceremony was organised by the Christchurch Branch of the Royal Naval Association (RNA).

A RNA spokeswoman said: "Lorna Cockayne is one of the last surviving people who ran the first computers in the world - the Colossus computers at Bletchley Park.

"At the time, women could join the Women's Royal Navy Service (Wrens) but not the Royal Navy itself, offering administrative support to the War effort but not allowed to sea.

"Lorna joined the Wrens in 1943, and as a member of Bletchley Park's 'C Watch' she played a pivotal role in defeating the Germans."