Highest French honour for Polegate war veteran

Captain Fran�ois Jean presented Alfred Jean with the award
Captain Fran�ois Jean presented Alfred Jean with the award

A man from Eastbourne was presented with the prestigious French Légion d’Honneur award last weekend.

Ninety-five-year-old Alfred George Wenham was given the medal to honour his role in the World War Two D-Day operation which took place on the Normandy coast of France.

Alfred received the award at the Polegate branch of the British Legion

Alfred received the award at the Polegate branch of the British Legion

Mr Wenham, who was handed his medal at a ceremony on Saturday July 22, said, “It was a great honour really, after all this time.”

The medal was presented to Mr Wenham by Captain François Jean, French consulate for the South East, on behalf of French President Emmanuel Macron.

A group of 16 friends and family members attended the medal presentation at the Polegate branch of the British Legion in Victoria Road.

Mr Wenham’s son Don said the family combined their celebration of the award with the war veteran’s 95th birthday drinks.

Don Wenham said, “It was very special. I feel honoured. Captain François Jean’s speech was superb and the grandchildren are over the moon.”

Alfred Wenham had support on the day from his granddaughter Lisa Payne who had travelled from Yorkshire with her husband and three children especially for the event.

The 95-year-old, who was born in Polegate and now lives in West Ham, said he was pleased with the day’s celebrations.

“It all went off very well,” said Mr Wenham, who was one of the first to land on Omaha beach in Normandy on June 6 1944.

Spencer Kenward, branch chairman for Polegate British Legion said he was honoured to be approached and offer the venue for the medal presentation.

“The medal is awarded by the French so it is quite a prestigious thing to happen in our area,” he said. “We were absolutely delighted,”