War veterans who helped liberate a nation honoured at civic reception

Newspaper: Wakefield Express.'Story: Legion of Honour medals ceremony held at Wakefield town hall.'L to R) Council leader Cllr. Peter Box, Rita Boffey - daughter of Mr. Percy Boffey, Jon Trickett MP, Albert Robilliard, June Cliffe - Mayor of Wakefield.'Photo date: 15/01/16'Picture Ref: AB014a0116

Newspaper: Wakefield Express.'Story: Legion of Honour medals ceremony held at Wakefield town hall.'L to R) Council leader Cllr. Peter Box, Rita Boffey - daughter of Mr. Percy Boffey, Jon Trickett MP, Albert Robilliard, June Cliffe - Mayor of Wakefield.'Photo date: 15/01/16'Picture Ref: AB014a0116

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As young men they helped liberate a nation from Nazism.

Now more than 70 years later, two war veterans have been recognised by the French government for their heroism.

The L�gion d'Honneur medal

The L�gion d'Honneur medal

Leading aircraftman (LAC) Albert Robilliard and sergeant Percy Boffey are the latest soldiers to receive France’s highest military honour – the Légion d’honneur medal.

And both men were honoured by councillors at a civic reception at Wakefield Town Hall on Friday.

LAC Robilliard, 92, of Normanton, signed up for the army after being evicted from his home in Guernsey. It came after the Channel Islands were occupied by German forces in 1940.

After joining the RAF regiment aged 17, LAC Robilliard served in France, Germany and Egypt. He left the forces after World War Two ended in 1945.

LAC Robilliard said: “I am very proud to get the medal and very pleased the people that went to fight the war are being remembered.

“It has been nice to have been invited to the reception and something that was unexpected. I am very honoured.”

Sgt Boffey, 93, of Kettlethorpe, joined the forces aged 15 and served in the Kings Only Yorkshire Light Infantry.

During the war, he was among thousands of allied troops who landed on the beaches of Normandy in northern France.

But he was later discharged after being shot in the leg while on duty. He then spent six months recovering at a hospital in Cheltenham.

Sgt Boffey was unable to go the ceremony due to ill health but his daughter, Rita Boffey, attended on his behalf.

She said: “Dad does not speak much about the war but we were very proud of him when he received the medal.

“Sadly, there are not many World War Two veterans left but we are happy they are being remembered.”

The Mayor of Wakefield Coun June Cliffe met both families before the celebratory reception in the mayor’s parlour.

She said: “I was absolutely delighted they accepted my invitation to come and celebrate receiving the medals they truly deserve.

“It was wonderful to spend the afternoon with them and show how much we appreciate what they did for us.”

Armed Forces Champion Coun Sandra Pickin said: “We do not want what they did for us to be forgotten and thanks to them we have a lot to be thankful for.

“They deserve the recognition because of what they went through. We are very proud to have two recipients of the medals coming from our area.”

Council leader Peter Box, Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett and members of the Royal British Legion also attended the ceremony.

The Legion d’Honneur medal is awarded to soldiers by the French government.

It is the country’s highest honour for bravery.

The medal honours the soldiers for the role they played in liberating France during World War Two.

The French government said it wanted to recognise the selfless acts of heroism and determination displayed by all surviving veterans of the landings.

And many of those who have received the medal took part in the D-Day landings in June 1944.

More than 3,000 applications have received from former soldiers, with hundreds of medals being awarded so far.

Jean-Marc Todeschini, French Minister of State for Veterans and Remembrance, said: “To these men, France owes its liberation.

“We will never forget their bravery more than 70 years ago, which led to freedom and peace in France and across Europe.”