A modest gentleman has received France’s highest military honour for his role in the historic D-Day landings.
Mr Arthur Tunley, of Marsden Road, Burnley, admitted he was shocked when he received a letter to say he had been awarded the Légion d’Honneur from the French Government.
I’m proud to receive this medal, but I was one of the lucky ones.D-Day veteran Arthur Tunley
The 94-year-old played a rarely-discussed, but still vital role in the Normandy landings of June, 1944, when he helped to create ammunition dumps for allied aircraft near to the beaches.
Arthur, who grew up in Birkenhead, volunteered for the RAF at the outbreak of war and served with the 424 Aviation Fuel and Ammunition Park (AFAP), 2nd Tactical Air Force at Sword Beach.
He said: “I’m proud to receive this medal, but I was one of the lucky ones. One of my worst memories from that time was seeing my pal from Birkenhead Bob Ryder killed in an accident right beside me in Dieppe. It was terrible.”
Indeed, Arthur’s own brother, Jim, was also killed in the war when he was shot down in a Lancaster on a bombing raid over Hamburg. His other brothers, Harry and Tom, also served.
After Normandy, Arthur was posted to Holland, Burma and Singapore, latterly where he saw British POWs of the Japanese.
He said: “The former POWs were in a sorry state. Another memory I have from my time in the Far East was a huge accidental explosion near Butterworth, Malaya.
“The Japanese had stockpiled lots of ordnance near to an aerodrome. All of a sudden the whole lot went up. It was deafening.”
After the war, Arthur worked as a telephone engineer, settled down with sweetheart Wyn and raised their family of three children, which has now grown to four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.