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Blind veteran, 95, receives Legion d’Honneur for his services during Second World War

16:14 12 September 2016

James Dean and James Ryeland after the Legion d'Honneur presentation

James Dean and James Ryeland after the Legion d'Honneur presentation

Archant

James Dean was presented with the honour by James Ryeland

The Legion d'Honneur presentationThe Legion d'Honneur presentation

A veteran of the Nazi-occupation of France during the Second World War has been honoured for his service during the war.

James Dean, from Bromley, has been awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur for his part in the liberation of France.

The 95-year-old was presented with the honour by James Ryeland in a special ceremony last week in Biddenden, near Ashford..

Mr Dean joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in August 1941, receiving basic training in Skegness.

He specialised as a bomb and gun armourer before posted to Felixstowe and later Biggin Hill Aerodrome.

The veteran loaded shells into Spitfire whilst based at the local airfield.

He was then transferred to the Middle East, where he served in Egypt, Syria, Libya before moving on to north Africa and.

Finally he was sent to Istres-Le Tubi Air Base, near Marseille, where he was responsible for repairing the aerodrome and maintenance of planes that were aiding in the France’s liberation.

Mr Dean is blind after he was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration 16 years ago.

Blind Veterans UK organised the event.

Mr Dean said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and am very grateful to Blind Veterans UK.

“I appreciate James Ryeland coming to Kent to present the medal and would like thank the French government for this very special award.

Blind Veterans UK chief executive Major General Nick Caplin says: “We’re so proud of all of our veterans like James and we are delighted that his Service is recognised with this prestigious French medal.”

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