Tyne & Wear

WW2 veteran awarded Légion d'Honneur on 99th birthday

Leonard Wells
Image caption The Legion d'Honneur is the highest military honour

A war veteran has been awarded a French military honour on his 99th birthday for his part in the D-Day landings.

A former gunner with the 73rd Anti-tank Regiment, Leonard Wells was awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur at his care home in Sunderland on Saturday.

Mr Wells was joined by family and members of the 256 City of London Field Hospital to receive his medal.

His great niece, Rebecca Smith, said she felt a "great sense of pride" to see him honoured after so many years.

It was announced on the 70th anniversary of D-Day that the Legion d'honneur would be awarded to all veterans who took part in the invasion.

Image caption Leonard Wells with members of the 256 City of London Field Hospital who presented his medal

Ms Smith said it was a "great surprise" to hear her great uncle would be getting the award.

She added it was significant for the family to realise that "after all this time it is still important to people and the service that he gave to his country".

Captain Mark Smith, of the 256 City of London Field Hospital, said: "Leonard was a gunner with the 73rd Anti-tank Regiment so he fired 25 pounder artillery guns at enemy tanks as indirect fire or direct fire as cover for troops on the ground.

"It's a significant award in recognition of his courage and service commitment and ethos on a similar level to an OBE."