George Brewis, 92, was given the Légion d’Honneur at a meeting of the Alnwick branch of The Fusiliers’ Association last Saturday.
The accolade recognises the selfless acts of heroism and determination displayed by all surviving British veterans of the Normandy landings, and of the wider campaigns to liberate France from the Nazis in the Second World War.
Great-grandfather George served with the Army on D-Day and continued in Europe until the war’s end.
After being presented with the honour, George said: “This award is fantastic and I am over the moon, although I feel that the medal should have been awarded to those lads who lost their lives on D-Day and in the battle to liberate France.”
While serving with the 3rd British Infantry Division, George landed with one of the earliest waves on Sword Beach on D-Day – June 6, 1944.
His role was that of dispatch rider as a member of the Royal Army Service Corps, but for several weeks he was unable to fulfil his role, because of the limited terrain held.
He was therefore employed on the beach unloading stores from the amphibious landing craft. More specifically, he helped provide an essential stockpile of cans of petroleum.
This petrol dump was attacked by German aircraft and exploded. George was involved in the aftermath and the re-establishing of the dump.
He remained with the 3rd Infantry Division during the assault on Caen and he continued his service in Europe until the war ended in 1945.
However, this was not the end of George’s Army service. At the end of the war in Europe, the 3rd Division was posted to Palestine and George was not demobbed until 1947. In 1948, following his return to Alnwick, George joined the 7th Battalion, The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (Territorial Army), and served for 11 years, having been promoted Corporal.
Unfortunately, he had to leave the TA following an accident sustained while on annual training. After he was demobbed, George worked for 20 years as a mechanical engineer for the Ministry of Agriculture, before setting up in business as a haulage contractor.
In April 1952, he married Ann and they have a son and a daughter, four grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. Ann was delighted to see hero George honoured with the Légion d’Honneur. She said: “I am overjoyed with this award, as are all the members of our family”.
At George’s request, the presentation was held at the RAFA Club, where the Fusiliers’ Association meets once a month, and which was attended by George’s family and friends.
The presentation ceremony was introduced by Major Alan Wall TD, president of the Alnwick branch.
The medal was presented by Colonel Richard Jackson QVRM, formerly Commanding Officer of the 6th (Northumberland) Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, who subsequently was appointed the Deputy Commander 15th (North East) Brigade and then TA Colonel of the 2nd Division.