Eastbourne man who stormed beaches on D-Day awarded medal

Veteran Bill Edgeler and wife May SUS-150311-090803001
Veteran Bill Edgeler and wife May SUS-150311-090803001

A 97-year-old man from Eastbourne has been awarded one of France’s highest honours for his role in the D-Day landings during the Second World War.

A former sergeant in the Corps of Royal Engineers, Bill Edgeler was in the first wave of soldiers to land on Juno Beach in the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.

To honour his achievement Mr Edgeler has been awarded the Croix de Guerre.

Mr Edgeler’s son Terry said, “He is very humble. He doesn’t speak about his time during the war very often.

“He was lucky enough to survive and go through it.”

Mr Edgeler enlisted at the beginning of the war serving as an engineer in Northern France before the evacuation of Dunkirk.

After the evacuation Mr Edgeler returned to England, where he worked to build defences against a threatened German invasion.

He returned to the front line on D-Day and survived the landing to serve in the Allied advance through occupied France.

Mr Edgeler was awarded the Military Medal for his service during the campaign.

Terry said, “He was injured in France and spent some time back in the UK to recover before he returned to his regiment.

“They lost so many officers during the campaign, he was in charge of his unit as a sergeant as they built bridges over the Rhine.”

After the war, Mr Edgeler joined East Sussex Police retiring as a police sergeant in Hailsham after 30 years on the force.

He now lives in Eastbourne with his wife May, 95.

The medal presentation comes as part of a number of awards since the 70th anniversary of D-Day. French President François Hollande pledged to honour British veterans who had served in France during the war.

Terry applied for his father’s medal through the Ministry of Defence last year.

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