Pendle war heroes awarded France’s top honour

from left, Norman Fred Robinson, Denis Macro, Robert Alwyn Taylor and Edward John Shipley receive their Legion d'Honneur from the French Consul
from left, Norman Fred Robinson, Denis Macro, Robert Alwyn Taylor and Edward John Shipley receive their Legion d'Honneur from the French Consul

Three war heroes from Pendle were awarded with France’s top honour during an emotional ceremony at the weekend.

Denis Macro (91), from Colne, and old school mates Edward John Shipley (92), also from Colne, alongside Robert Alwyn Taylor (93), of Trawden, were presented with the Legion d’Honneur award from the French consul on Saturday at Skipton Golf Club for their efforts during D-Day.

from left, Denis Macro, Robert Alwyn Taylor and Edward John Shipley from Colne receive their Legion d'Honneur from the French Consul

from left, Denis Macro, Robert Alwyn Taylor and Edward John Shipley from Colne receive their Legion d'Honneur from the French Consul

The presentations were made during the annual Skipton and District Royal Naval Association dinner to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, this year being the 211th.

Norman Fred Robinson (92), from Skipton, also received the award and Kevin Brown collected the accolade for his father Alan Crawshaw Brown, also of Skipton, who was presented with his medal in a hospital bed days before his death in September.

Alan Hague, from Earby, is Secretary of the Royal Naval Association. He said: “It was an excellent day, very good indeed. One or two tears were shed. We decided to incorporate it into our Trafalgar day dinner and it was a great occasion.

“The award is the equivalent of the Victoria Cross and is the highest accolade awarded by the French.

Denis Macro receives his Legion d'Honneur from Jeremy Burton, Honorary French Consul

Denis Macro receives his Legion d'Honneur from Jeremy Burton, Honorary French Consul

“I think they are 72 years late. These lads have been hanging on for them.

“It is important to remember the efforts of those on D-Day. As well as the battle onshore, the English channel was being patrolled as far away as Brest in the west and right up to the Netherlands at the other end.”

The trio from Pendle last year received the Ushakov medal from Lisa Vokorina and Sergey Belyakov, two Russian Embassy attachés, for their efforts in the Arctic Convoys which saw about 1,400 merchant ships deliver essential supplies to the Soviet Union in the Second World War under the Lend-Lease programme, escorted by ships of the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and the US Navy.

With last year’s presentation so close to VE Day, each veteran also received a Russian peace medal for their actions.

Kevin Brown with the Legion d'Honneur he received for his father Alan Crawshaw Brown

Kevin Brown with the Legion d'Honneur he received for his father Alan Crawshaw Brown

Mr Macro joined the Royal Navy as a 17-year-old in 1943, training as a Wireless Telegraphist and joining HMS Mounsey in 1944.

He was present on D-Day with HMS Mounsey protecting the Allied fleet from submarine and small boat intrusion. She patrolled the Western end of the English channel for several weeks.

Thereafter, he served in the Arctic Convoys but was torpedoed off Murmansk. He survived, but his friend and fellow Colner Irvine Pickles died in the incident, as did several others.

Mr Shipley joined the Royal Navy in 1942 at 18, and after training as a Seaman, he was drafted to Liverpool to join HMS Starling as part of Capt. Jack Walker’s legendary second support group which escorted convoys across the Atlantic to the UK. The group accounted for 28 German U-boats in the course of its activities but never lost a ship or man.

The Legion d'Honneur from the French Consul

The Legion d'Honneur from the French Consul

Mr Shipley was present on D-Day, taking part in anti-submarine patrols and protecting the landing areas from U-boat attack. HMS Starling swept the English channel for several weeks afterwards.

Mr Taylor signed up for the Royal Navy at 18 in 1941 and became an Ord. Seaman. After training, he was drafted to HMS Vetch, and was part of Capt. Jack Walker’s 36th escort group, escorting convoys in the Mediterranean for which he received a Malta medal. He had responsibility for the depth charges which were useful when hunting U-boats.

Mr Taylor was later switched to HMS Berwick as a leading torpedoman and on D-Day was engaging in anti-submarine warfare to ensure that all Allied supplies and armaments were landed on the beaches.

From late 1944 until the end of the war in Europe, he escorted many Arctic convoys going frequently to Archangel and Murmansk.

Members of the HMS Belfast, from left, James Baxter 1960's, Sam Bottomley 1950's and Norman Fred Robinson 1940's

Members of the HMS Belfast, from left, James Baxter 1960's, Sam Bottomley 1950's and Norman Fred Robinson 1940's

Norman Fred Robinson receives his Legion d'Honneur from Jeremy Burton, Honorary French Consul

Norman Fred Robinson receives his Legion d'Honneur from Jeremy Burton, Honorary French Consul

Edward John Shipley receives his Legion d'Honneur from Jeremy Burton, Honorary French Consul

Edward John Shipley receives his Legion d'Honneur from Jeremy Burton, Honorary French Consul