Our fellow parishioner, (Michael) Tony Sutton, 95, attended a ceremony at Teignmouth Golf Club on Monday 5 December 2016, where he was presented with (along with two other ex-servicemen), the Legion of Honour – the highest French order for military and civil merit – by Alain Sibiril, Honorary French Consul, based in Plymouth.
The ‘Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur’, is the ‘reward for outstanding merit acquired in the service of the nation (of France) in either a civilian or military capacity’.
Lieutenant and Liaison Officer, later Captain Tony Sutton of the Westminster Dragoons, landed in Normandy on Gold Beach, at D-Day+4 (10 June 1944). His regiment was equipped with Flail Tanks for clearing mines and establishing a viable path ahead of advancing troops, and was part of the 79th Armoured Division.
Tony continued to serve through Normandy, Belgium, Holland and Germany. He was the leader of the flail-tanks troops in Holland, during action for which, he later received the Military Cross.
The Légion d’Honneur, is the medal at the top with red ribbon.
A number of parishioners were present to see Tony receive the award and it was very moving to hear him describe – in unassuming terms – the service that he and his regiment undertook. This award confirms the significance of Tony’s individual contribution during the Battle of Normandy, a conflict which was of course the beginning of the Allied liberation of Western Europe.
You can hear two audio clips here. The first is of the presentation itself:
The second is a short speech given by the French Consul to commemorate the occasion:
Please be sure to congratulate Tony, if you see him at Mass.