93-year-old veteran finally gets his medal

Joe Riley with Cadet Jason MCallum, who Joe met with in France last year.
Joe Riley with Cadet Jason MCallum, who Joe met with in France last year.

A 93-year-old veteran has finally received the medal he was awarded in Normandy in 1944.

Joe Riley, from West Sleekburn, was part of the Allied forces that landed on the Normandy Beaches on D-Day.

The veteran discovered on his annual trip back to Normandy that the French government had agreed to award every living veteran with the country’s highest honour, the Legion d’honneur.

The medal was presented by the honorary French Consul for the North East and Cumbria Andrew Robinson, at a recent ceremony in Durham Cathedral.

On his trip to France last year Joe met with the Air Cadets from Ashington, who made him an honorary member of the squadron and he was keen to show off his prized possession to them.

And on a recent visit to the squadron the cadets were keen to see Joe’s special award and for new members of the squadron here of his exploits in Normandy during the D-Day landings.

He told them how his landing craft, loaded with troops had set off from Newhaven in Sussex for the seven hour crossing to France to take part in the landings.

Joe’s landing craft was damaged in the first run ashore but they made it back to Newhaven for repairs and subsequently made another eight runs across the channel with troops landing at the newly built Mulberry Harbour and ferrying injured troops and German prisoners back to Britain.