Pegasus Bridge honour for heroic war veteran

A retired railway guard from Fleetwood has been given a prestigious military award which recognises exceptional valour in his wartime service.

Wednesday, 19th July 2017, 11:17 am
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 1:01 pm
Chris Fitzgerald with his Ordre National de la Légion dhonneur.
Chris Fitzgerald with his Ordre National de la Légion dhonneur.

Chris Fitzgerald, 93, has been awarded the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, in respect of his service in France during the Second World War.

The medal is the highest French order for military and civil merits.

And Chris, who lives near Fleetwood town centre and has been married to Irene for 73 years, has also received the Veterans Badge from the Ministry of Defence.

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The Ordre national de la Légion dhonneur medal.

These awards relate to the time when Chris was a member of the 6th Airborne Division and he parachuted into Normandy to capture “Pegasus Bridge” at the start of D-Day.

He and his comrades later advanced through Belgium, during the famous Battle of the Bulge, and then parachuted across the Rhine during the invasion of Germany.

Despite his heroic exploits, it was only recently that Chris started to say anything at all about his experiences during the war.

He only received these awards because one of his younger relatives, having heard Chris finally talk of his experiences, decided to submit an application on his behalf.

The Ordre national de la Légion dhonneur medal.

Chris said: “I never really liked to talk about what happened, after the war we just got on with things.

“But I’m still very proud to have received both these awards, I suppose there aren’t many people who have something like this.”

Chris’ sister, Ann MacSymons, said: “We’re really proud of him.”

In December another Fleetwood resident, former Royal Navy man Ernie Lee, 92, was also one of a small handful of British men to receive the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur.