Tayside and Central Scotland

Scottish war veteran receives French military honour

William McLaughlin Image copyright Sandra McLaughlin
Image caption William McLaughlin was honoured for his role in the liberation of France during World War Two

Scottish war veteran William McLaughlin has received the highest French military honour, in recognition of his role in the Normandy Landings in 1944.

Mr McLaughlin, who is 92, was given the Ordre National Legion d'honneur by the French Consul at a ceremony in Tullibody, Clackmannanshire.

He first made a symbolic journey from the town's war memorial to the care home where he lives.

He said: "I feel so honoured. I don't deserve it - I was just doing my job."

His daughter Sandra McLaughlin said the family was "bursting with pride."

The Ordre National Legion d'honneur, known in English as the National Order of the Legion of Honour or Legion of Honour Award, was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803.

The Government of France offers the award to all surviving veterans of the D-Day landings.

Image copyright Sandra McLaughlin
Image caption Mr McLaughlin was 18 years old when he was conscripted into the Royal Navy

About 30 naval cadets and a military piper accompanied Mr McLaughlin in a procession from the war memorial in Tullibody to the ceremony at the Orchard Care Home where he lives.

He travelled in a vintage Armstrong Siddeley car loaned for the occasion.

Staff at the home decorated it with bunting and flags. About 80 people were expected to attend.

Ms McLaughlin said: "Dad is a very humble man but he is just so proud to be getting his honour.

"We're bursting with pride for what he did, and for everyone who played their part in World War Two.

"He's also been an excellent father to us."

Line of fire

Mr McLaughlin was a Royal Navy visual signal man during World War Two and was just 20 years old when the Allied fleet landed in German occupied France.

As radio signals could have alerted the enemy, his role was to stand on the open deck in the line of fire and pass visual messages between crafts using flags, morse code, and lights.

Image copyright Sandra McLaughlin

He served on a Landing Craft Tank taking Canadian tanks and troops onto Juno beach on 6 June 1944. It was among the first wave of vessels to land. Many of the boats and troops were lost.

After the war, he went on to marry shop assistant May Murdoch in 1949, and worked as a joiner.

The couple were married for 65 years, before her death last year, and lived in Bannockburn, Stirling.

They had three children and four grandchildren. Mr McLaughlin is now also a great-grandfather.

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