Mercy Place Mont Clare resident Norman Walker has been presented with the Legion of Honour – the highest French order of merit for military excellence, which was established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte.
The 93-year-old was awarded Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur on Monday 6 May by the Consul General of France to Sydney for his service to France during WWII, where he served on Juno Beach.
The honour is an expression of France’s gratitude to those who risked their lives for the country’s liberation.
Mr Walker joined the Navy in October 1943 when he was 18, and saw active service the following year, marking his 19th birthday while he was involved with the Normandy landings, and the wider campaigns to liberate France in 1944.
The Englishman served for four months on Juno Beach in Normandy, before being sent to Belgium where he saw active service until the war in Europe ended in 1945.
He later immigrated to Australia as a “10 pound Pom”, leaving Tilbury Docks in October 1951, disembarking in Sydney. He then moved to Bathurst, then Goulburn, and then in 1953 he moved to Fremantle.
“This is a very proud moment for his family,” says stepdaughter Linda Gardiner.
“We know that Norman is very proud of both his past and what he’s achieved during his life. Being recognised in this way is an incredible honour.”
Joan Lowney, Mercy Place Mont Clare Service Manager, said the not-for-profit home was honoured to host the Legion of Honour ceremony.
“The Legion d’Honneur (Legion of Honour) is the highest civilian award given by the French Government to an individual for his outstanding service, regardless of the nationality of the recipient, and everyone here at Mercy Place Mont Clare has huge respect for Norman and his bravery during WWII.
“It was a real honour for our Mont Clare community to witness Norman being bestowed the award for his role as part of the Royal Navy in supporting the D-Day landings and the troops who fought their way up the beaches nearly 75 years ago.”
Mercy Health is a Catholic not-for-profit provider of care; founded by the Sisters of Mercy and grounded in a 2000-year tradition of caring for those in need.