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Scots D-Day heroes awarded highest French military honour

Four Scots veterans were awarded the the Knight of the Légion d'Honneur Cross.

Pointing towards his lapel groaning with medals, Leonard Humphrey gesticulates towards his latest honour - the Knight of the Légion d'Honneur Cross.

"It is an honour, I mean all these are an honour in a way," the D-Day veteran explains of the medal, the highest French order of merit for military and civil endeavours.

But modestly he adds: "Not greatly deserved but there you are."

Mr Humphrey is one of four Scottish veterans who took part in the D-Day landings on June 6 1944 who were awarded the honour at a reception in Edinburgh on Thursday, marking the 75th anniversary of the WWII landings.

Taking place at The French Consulate and organised by Armed Forces charity Legion Scotland and The French Consulate General, the event was attended by around 15 D-Day veterans, serving personnel, various dignitaries and Graeme Dey, the Scottish Government's Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans.

Eric Tandy, David Livingston and David Duguid also received the Knight of the Légion d'Honneur Cross was presented on behalf of the President of the French Republic by the Consul General of France to the veterans who served on D-Day and were part of the subsequent liberation of France.

Since June 2014, more than 5800 medals have been awarded.

Medal:  Leonard Humphry, Eric Tandy and David Livingston received the honour.
Medal: Leonard Humphry, Eric Tandy and David Livingston received the honour. Mark Owens/Poppyscotland

Eric Tandy, who was just 20 years old when he parachuted into France during D-Day, was taken prisoner by the Germans up until the end of the war.

While his experience as a prisoner was "something he would not want to repeat", he said being a paratrooper was an "exhilarating experience".

"The best thing about the whole thing was meeting people in their armchairs and they're still smiling", he says of the ceremony. "They've done a lot for the country and I think that meeting them has been very uplifting for me as well.

"I would like to say at this moment that I appreciate what all the countries have done, especially now. Let's hope we don't have any future wars, one against the other."

D-Day veterans invited to the reception.
D-Day veterans invited to the reception. Mark Owens/Poppyscotland

Mr Humphrey added that while he felt he had "an easy war", his memories of D-Day often fall towards those who weren't so lucky rather than his own experiences.

"I've visited graves of people we lost. In particular one grave of a chap about my age and he was far braver than me. He volunteered to go on a reccy passing for the next move and he got killed.

"I buried him and the next day I went on leave, which I had been looking forward to for months.

"He was just my age and he would have been 94 now."

'There were times when you were scared stiff and times when you were absolutely confident.'
John Macmillan, D-Day veteran

John Macmillan, who was also honoured at the ceremony, said that he was determined to serve in the war despite having a young wife and two small children.

However, he questioned his bravery as he sailed towards the Normandy landings.

"There were times when you were scared stiff and times when you were absolutely confident," he says.

"I remember the crossing being very bumpy and feeling quite seasick, although I don't think it was seasickness, I think I was scared to death.

"Your emotions take over and you think 'will we or won't we'.

"You never know in the moment. I survived it and I was lucky. You didn't stop to think about these things, you just got on with it."

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