A pair of brave servicemen who between them survived D-Day, gun fights, and witnessed the liberation of the Belsen Concentration Camp have received France’s highest honour.
Lesley Lemon, 96, from Bierton, and Sidney Peachey, 98 from Princes Risborough, each received the Legion d’Honneur medal this week, in recognition of their bravery in Europe during the Second World War.
Mr Lemon, who in his later life was treasurer at St James Church for 26 years, was called for service in August 1939.
After time served as an anti-aircraft unit in Huntington he was posted to the infantry, where in 1944 he crossed to Calais with the 4th Batallion of the Wiltshire Regiment.
He marched through France, Belgium, Holland and across the Rhine into Germany.
He was wounded in action in 1945 but quickly recovered and was able to continue marching.
At the end of the war he was part of the liberation of the Belsen Concentration Camp, which was subsequently set up as a headquarters and renamed Home Camp.
He said: “When we first arrived some of the prisoners were still there in their striped PJs, it’s something that never leaves you, but I didn’t see the worst of it.
“I left a lot of my comrades behind and this medal is as much for them as it is for me.
“I never expected to survive the war, and every day that I wake up I am so thankful.
“My brother-in-law, was only 20 and he was killed in action, I look at his picture every day.”
After the war Mr Lemon found work with the Inland Revenue, and at one time was wealth officer for the whole of Scotland.
Mr Peachey served in the Navy on the Royal Sovereign from 1939 to 1942 and after that on the HMS Warspite, which the sailors nicknamed the Old Lady.
During his time on the Warspite Mr Peachey was part of the D-Day landings, serving as chief petty officer ordanance artificer servicing and repairing the ship’s 15 inch guns.
After the war he married Constance and worked for aircraft firm Dehavilland, later becoming a civil servant at Somerset House.
On Saturday MP John Bercow presented the medal to Mr Peachey, who was joined by four generations of his family at his retirement complex in Princes Risborough.
His daughter Carol Warren, said: “When we found out about the honour he said that it is not just for him, it’s for everyone that was involved.
“They are all heroes and we are so proud of them all.”