Great Gonerby veteran dedicates award to family

Top award: Derrick Smith is dedicating his award to his two brothers and son-in-law who also fought in the war.
Top award: Derrick Smith is dedicating his award to his two brothers and son-in-law who also fought in the war.
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A D-day veteran who has just been awarded with the insignia of Chevalier de la Legion, is dedicating his award to his late family.

Derrick Smith, 95 of Covill Close, Great Gonerby, received his award earlier this week in recognition of his involvement in the liberation of France during the Second World War.

The Légion d’Honneur, or National Order of the Legion of Honour, is the highest French order for military and civil merits.

In 2014, in conjuction with events to mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings, the government of France advised the Military of Defence that it wished to award the Legion d’Honneur to all surviving veterans.

Derrick spent nearly four years as a coder in the Royal Navy.

As his two brothers passed away before their war efforts could officially be recognised, Derrick applied on their
behalf.

He said: “My eldest brother Bill was lost at sea when his ship, HMS Gloucester, was sunk by German bombers, during the battle of Crete in 1941. He was only 24.

“My other brother Alan once intercepted a message about the German warship, the sister ship of the Bismarck, called the Scharnhorst, being free, sending the homefleet into a panic.

“My brother-in-law, J. O. Flint of Barholm, was a major in the Lincolnshire regiment and received the Distinguished Service Order (DSO).”

After the war, Derrick went on to marry his late wife Cynthia and have two children, Michael and Belinda.

He added: “The wartime period was difficult for everyone. I often think about those young pilots who defeated the German air force.

“If it wasn’t for their bravery, Europe would be a very different place now.”

Derrick is well known for being the only surviving founder member of Kesteven Rugby Football Club. It was founded in 1946 in Bourne, then moved over to Woodnook in the 1950s. Cynthia was a supporter, and the first sports physio in the region.