Modest D-Day duo handed medals by French top brass

WWII veterans Stanley Bousfield and Charles Green from Poulton have been commended as heroes by the French Legion of Honour
WWII veterans Stanley Bousfield and Charles Green from Poulton have been commended as heroes by the French Legion of Honour
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Two Fylde veterans have been hailed as heroes by the French government for their bravery in the Second World War.

Charles Green, 94, and Stanley Bousfield, 90, were awarded the rank of Chevalier in the French Legion of Honour in October for their roles in defending France from the Nazis in the Battle of Normandy in 1944.

The prestigious award was issued by French president François Hollande and commemorates bravery and selflessness for the benefit of the country.

But Mr Green and Mr Bousfield modestly said that they do not think of themselves as heroes.

Mr Green, who lives at Belgrave Place in Poulton, volunteered for the Royal Air Force in 1941 when he was 20 years old. He served as a rear gunner in the 429 Leeming Squadron, and flew more than 50 missions in a deadly Lancaster Bomber, where a new recruit’s life expectancy was just two weeks.

Mr Green said: “I was a bit hesitant about accepting the award. The war is not something I like to talk about. I haven’t talked about it in about 10 years.

“I would never call myself a hero. The real heroes are the ones who lost their lives.

“I couldn’t tell you how many men we lost. Too many to count. Every plane that went down had seven young lads in it. One of my friends died when his plane exploded coming into land.

“Everybody did their bit to protect their country, including civilians. There was a great collective spirit. It was just something we all had to do.

“When the war was over I was happy. I was looking forward to coming home and getting everything back to normal - but nothing really changed. Everybody just kept on killing.”

Mr Bousfield, who lives at North Drive in Anchorsholme with his wife Margaret, signed up for the Royal Navy in 1943 when he was just 18.

He said: “I tried to sign up when I was 17 but they told me I had to wait.”

He served as a seaman in ‘Operation Neptune’ - the D-Day landings, in which more than 425,000 troops were killed, wounded or went missing.

The great-granddad-of-two said: “It was our job to carry radio equipment across the beach and set it up in a building that was occupied by the Nazis so we could send coded messages back to England. I was young and strong - and handsome - so it wasn’t too difficult for me!”

Mr Green and Mr Bousfield will lay a wreath at Poulton war memorial on Remembrance Sunday in memory of the friends they lost during the war.