French Consul presents Gordon Bennett with his Legion d’Honneur medal

At 1400hrs on Friday 6th August a gathering took place in Hinckley, home of Gordon Bennett, who served with the Leicestershire Regiment during the liberation of Europe in 1944/45. Many friends and family attended along with a strong representation from both the Tiger’s Association and the 2nd Battalion with representatives from B (Leicestershire) Company giving up their POTL to be present on this special occasion.

Gordon Bennett, now aged 95, joined up late in the war when he reached the age of 18 and was soon sent to Normandy in the days immediately after 6th June as a Battle Casualty Replacement. Having moved up to the Front and linked up with the Battalion he soon saw action taking part in many fighting patrols around the port of Le Havre (there was enough Nazi war materiel in the port to extend the war by two years). During one patrol his unit was ordered to capture a bridge that would take a vehicles weight. On arrival at the bridge, there was no enemy presence. Suspecting a trap they deployed all-round defence. Gordon was in the lee of a large house with his Bren gun. The door to the house suddenly opened and out stepped a German soldier who walked over to Gordon’s prone position, opened his flies and started to urinate on him. Gordon quickly got to his feet, yelled and pointed his Bren gun. With his hands high in the air the enemy soldier was grabbed by an experienced Sergeant and ordered to show where the rest of his group were. They were led to a cellar in the building. As they descended the steps, the prisoner, Gordon and his Bren Platoon Sergeant and a group from the fighting patrol were met with the sight of the bridge guard sat around tables. Once captured the now prisoners were taken to the rear echelon. Gordon was later wounded by a sniper in Belgium, saved by the fact that the round glanced off his mess tin. He recovered and due to his ability to drive went on to transport driving munitions and supplies to the front. After the war Gordon went on to serve in Palestine for two years driving senior Officers.

Meeting in the Masonic Hall in Hinckley, Lt Col David Young as Deputy Lord Lieutenant read Gordon’s citation, and then the French Honorary Consul embraced Gordon before pinning the Legion d’Honneur to his chest in recognition of his efforts in liberating the French people from the Nazis.

Created by Napoleon in the eighteenth century the Order of the Legion d’Honneur is the highest award in France made for personal contributions other than gallantry awards. Following the presentation guests enjoyed refreshments and a Vera Lynn tribute act which was much enjoyed by all, but especially by our very own Tiger, Gordon Bennett.