Guernsey

Retired RAF pilot awarded France's Légion d'Honneur

Douglas Coxell
Image caption Mr Coxell, 94, received his medal from Honorary French Consul, Odile Blanchette, at Government House in Guernsey

A 94-year-old retired RAF pilot, who continued flying planes until he was 86, has been awarded France's highest military honour.

Guernsey resident Douglas Coxell has received the Légion d'Honneur for his heroism at the Normandy Landings in 1944.

He was 23 when he flew a number of dangerous and strategically important RAF missions.

They included towing a glider full of troops that parachuted into Normandy.

He went on to fly in missions during the liberation of France and landed the first Allied aircraft in Norway in advance of the German surrender.

After that he flew with a commercial airline and then as an air search pilot trainer until the age of 86, when he could no longer be insured due to his age.

Image caption Left to right: Lieutenant-Governor Vice Admiral Sir Ian Corder, Rick Le Page, Douglas Coxell and Odile Blanchette

Mr Coxell welcomed the award: "It is quite important to me... that people don't just dismiss it as something that happened in the past that's of no interest or consequence to them."

Odile Blanchette, Honorary French Consul to Guernsey, presented Mr Coxell with his medal.

Another Guernseyman, Rick Le Page, was presented with the British Empire Medal by His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor Vice Admiral Sir Ian Corder.

Mr Le Page was awarded the medal in the 2016 New Year Honours List for service to Guernsey shooting which includes coaching the Guernsey team for the last five Commonwealth Games.

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