A MAN who fought to liberate Europe from Nazi occupation has been awarded France’s highest military honour.
Arthur “Tom” Moore was appointed a chevalier, or knight, in the Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur during a ceremony at Caversham Working Men’s Club.
The 93-year-old, of Tamesis Place, Caversham, joined the army in September 1937 and initially played in the band of the 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment, based at Southsea, Portsmouth.
When the Second World War broke out he was sent to London and trained as a machine gun operator and stretcher bearer before taking part in the D-Day landings in June 1944.
His battalion served as gunners for the 43rd Wessex Division under Major-General Ivor Thomas.
Their first success was the recapture of Hill 112, an important area of high ground in Normandy, during which they lost about 2,000 men. Later that summer they took part in the attack on Mont Pincon and the encirclement of several German divisions in the Battle of the Falaise Pocket.
The battalion reached the outskirts of Paris in August before crossing Holland and reaching Germany in March 1945.
By VE Day, two months later, Mr Moore was working as a telephone operator for the army’s intelligence services in Suchteln. He was promoted to the rank of corporal before leaving the Army in 1948. He then worked in the electronics industry until he retired aged 74.
Mr Moore, who moved to Caversham with his wife Rita in 2011, was honoured as part of an Anglo-French initiative to recognise British servicemen’s efforts. Several dozen people attended the ceremony including friends, relatives and members of the Caversham Royal British Legion and Col Charles Ackroyd, chairman of the Wessex Heritage Trust.
Capt Jean Francois, French consul for the south of England, said: “It is a great honour that we have gathered to express our admiration for your contribution to your country at a very difficult time.
“France remembers everyone from the army, navy and RAF who helped her to recover her pride and honour. Our countries have stood shoulder to shoulder to defend and promote the ideals of freedom and democracy.
“You are a true hero and will be our hero forever. We will never forget you, nor the ultimate sacrifice of your comrades who gave their lives.”
Mr Moore said: “I am overwhelmed and truly humbled by this award as my experience was no worse nor better than anyone else’s.
“I would like to dedicate it to the people of Normandy and to my friends and comrades who are no longer with us.
“I also dedicate it to the Resistance, who for four years opposed the Germans at great risk and were a great help. Vive la France.”