South West Wales

Legion d'honneur medal fast-tracked for D-Day veteran Howard Francis

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Media captionHoward Francis, 92, receives his Legion d'honneur medal from Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards

A Carmarthenshire D-Day veteran has been presented with France's highest military honour at his hospital bed.

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.

A deterioration in the health of Howard Francis, 92, prompted his family to chase his up.

He was presented with his medal in Glangwili Hospital, Carmarthen, on Monday.

Fighting for the Worcestershire Regiment, Mr Francis was shot in the shoulder near Rouen on 27 August 1944.

He received a letter which said he would be awarded the Legion d'honneur, but there was a delay due to a backlog in applications.

After he was taken ill two weeks ago, Mr Francis's family was helped by Links, a Llanelli-based charity helping ex-service personnel.

Links contacted Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards, who made urgent representations to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and the French Ambassador Sylvie Bermann.

Within hours, the French embassy confirmed the medal would be fast-tracked.

Susie Hamill, manager at Links, said it had been a "quick turnaround."

"The French have been really supportive and it shows the respect they have for someone like Mr Francis and the service he gave to their country."

Mr Edwards said it was an "absolute honour" to present the medal to Mr Francis.

The medal cannot be awarded posthumously and Michael Francis, Mr Francis's eldest son, said it meant the world to his family to be given the honour.

"We're over the moon. We're so proud of him. It's hard to put into words, but I'm so happy he's got it."

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