French honour D-Day vets
By Doug Laing
Presentations of France’s highest military medal are expected to go ahead on board a visiting frigate at Napier Port tomorrow.
The presentations of the Legion d’honneur will be made to 92-year-old Napier man Max Collett and family of two other D-Day veterans who have died since the conferring of the honours was announced last year. The Tahiti-based French Marine Nationale frigate FNS Prairial is scheduled to berth at Napier Port tomorrow at 9am and a function will be hosted aboard in the evening by commander Alexis Huberdeau, with French ambassador Florence Jeanblanc-Risler scheduled to make the presentations.
Having heard of last weekend’s Paris bombings and shootings, Mr Collett said: “I rang to see if it is still going to happen or not.” The other presentations will be made to family of the late Dick Brunton, who died on April 1, and John Caulton, who died on September 4.
In 2014, the French Government announced its highest honour would be bestowed on surviving British servicemen, to recognise the 70th anniversary of the landings at Normandy, effectively the start of the liberation of France during World War Il.
The trio being honoured tomorrow were all airforce men, and naval men are expected to be recognised at a later time. The Prairial is taking part in the New Zealand Defence Force’s month-long, eight-nation Exercise Southern Katipo 15.
Photo caption – HONOURED: World War Il Spitfire pilot Max Collett, will tomorrow receive one of three French Legion d’honneur medals on board FNS Prairial at Napier Port, recognising the D-Day landings.