Shipmate Bernard awarded France’s top honour in Long Sutton ceremony

Veteran Bernard Hale holds his Legion d'honneur watched by Terry Day (left) and Keith Crawford. SG090516-103TW
Veteran Bernard Hale holds his Legion d'honneur watched by Terry Day (left) and Keith Crawford. SG090516-103TW
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Royal Navy veteran Bernard Hale (91) was presented with France’s highest decoration, the Legion d’Honneur, in a ceremony at Long Sutton’s Market House on Monday.

The French Government is recognising the ex-servicemen and woman who played a role in liberating France during the Second World War.

Bernard enlisted into the Royal Navy aged 17 in 1941 and served until 1946.

He was a telegraphist in the communications section of The Royal Naval Patrol Service, mainly on board minesweepers, during which time he saw active service in the Normandy Campaign.

When discharged from the Navy, Bernard held the rank of T/O TEL and for his war service he was awarded the 1939 Star, Victory Medal and The Atlantic Star.

The Legion d’Honneur was presented to Bernard by French Honorary Consul Jean-Claude Lafontaine.

Among the gathering were South Holland District Council chairman Coun Francis Biggadike, council vice-chairman Rodney Grocock and ‘shipmates’ from Spalding branch of The Royal Naval Association, including branch chairman Keith Crawford and secretary Terry Day.

Also there was Bernard’s daughter, Janet Crisp, who had travelled from mid-Wales.

Janet said her father was very proud of being a telegraphist in the Navy and, despite failing memory, she’s learned “he can still tap out Morse code”.

Following his war service, Bernard joined the Metropolitan Police in London.

He served in the police for 37 years, firstly on foot patrol and then spent most of his service in what became known as the traffic division.

Bernard, who was born in Hertfordshire, retired from the police aged 59.

Bernard’s first wife, Jean, died in 1975.

They had two daughters, Susanne who passed away in 1993, and Janet, who also served in the Metropolitan Police where she met her husband, Tony.

Bernard moved to Long Sutton more than 30 years ago with his second wife Kay, who sadly passed away in the 1990s.

He lived alone for some time and now lives in a residential home at Fleet Hargate.

Janet was thrilled to see her father honoured.

“It was lovely that they put it on for him and that the French Consul came down,” said Janet.

Terry Day described Bernard as “the perfect veteran”.

He said: “He’s always happy, always smiling, he is a smashing guy.”

Bernard is the second shipmate from Spalding branch of the Royal Naval Association to receive France’s highest honour.

Charles Angel received his Legion d’Honneur in January, just before his 90th birthday. He also joined the Navy aged 17.

In the autumn, Bourne veteran Samuel Todd (92), received the award for his part in the D-Day landings of more than 70 years ago.

Samuel originally came from Holbeach,

Royal Lincolnshire Regiment veteran Tom Fowler (97), from Spalding, was presented with the Legion d’Honneur in January and, last month, received a medal from the Norwegian Government in recognition of his services in helping to restore Norway’s freedom during the Second World War.

• The National Order of the Legion of Honour was established by Napoleon in 1802.

Previously ...

Honour for Spalding shipmate

War veteran’s pride after French honour

France’s top military honour for Spalding hero Tom

Norwegian honour for Spalding old soldier Tom