AN HEROIC soldier who helped liberate France during the Second World War has finally received the country's highest honour 12 months after it had been due to be presented.

John Davies, of Buckden, now 96, who was a captain in the Royal Army Services Corps (RASC), has been appointed to the rank of Chevalier in the Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur.

His award – the highest France can bestow – comes just days after the Craven Herald highlighted how he had been waiting 12 months for the medal to arrive.

Mr Davies was among the thousands of troops in the allied army, who landed on the beaches of Northern France in 1944 to help liberate the country from the occupying Nazi forces.

In a letter from the French Ambassador in London, Sylvie Bermann said: "I offer you my warmest congratulations on this high honour in recognition of your acknowledged military engagement and your steadfast involvement in the Liberation of France during the Second World War.

"As we contemplate the Europe of peace, we must never forget the heroes like you, who came from Britain and the Commonwealth to begin the liberation of Europe by liberating France.

"We owe our freedom and security to your dedication because you were ready to risk your life."

His daughter, Ann Peters, also of Buckden, said: "We, as a family, are incredibly proud of my father and his achievements, as indeed we are of all the soldiers, sailors and airmen who risked their lives in order that the generations following on could be free.

"The insignia of Chevalier recognises the important role played by my father as a captain in the RASC, highlighting the massive part he and his men played in assisting the French army during the D-Day landings. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to these brave and selfless men."

Mr Davies had been among the 338,000 troops evacuated at Dunkirk in June 1940 and with the troops at the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944. He remained in France and Germany until the end of the war. He was awarded the French Star medal 1939-45 and three British campaign medals.

As a Red Cross observer, Mr Davies visited Belsen concentration camp after its liberation and was present at the Belsen trials in 1945.

In 1943 he married his childhood sweetheart, Marjorie, who served in the Women's Land Army during the war. They have recently celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary.