Two Dickleburgh veterans who aided in the liberation of France in the Second World War earned the country’s highest prestige this month, in recognition of their services.
Gunner Charles Copeman, 96, known to friends and family as ‘Billy’, and Private Aubrey Chilvers, 90, each received the Chevalier de l’ordre national de la Legion d’Honneur — the equivalent of a knighthood — to honour their involvement in the conflict over 70 years ago.
The branch is delighted that Aubrey and Billy have been recognised for the great contribution that they have made to our history and our heritageGordon Larkins
Both long-time members of Dickleburgh and District Royal British Legion, Mr Copeman served with the Royal Artillery Regiment, while Mr Chilvers was part of the Royal Norfolk Regiment.
A special ceremony for Mr Chilvers, who was only 18 years old when he landed in June 1944, took place at the Dickleburgh Village Centre in Harvey Lane last Saturday.
Gordon Larkins, the chairman of the Dickleburgh RBL, told the Diss Express: “We owe a lot to them.
“The branch is delighted that Aubrey and Billy have been recognised for the great contribution that they have made to our history and our heritage.”
Mr Larkins attributed the arrival of the medals to his predecessor as chairman, the late Michael Logan, who submitted applications on behalf of Mr Copeman and Mr Chilvers back in July 2014, soon after the commendation was introduced.
Having each served four years in the army, the pair both arrived on French shores on the so-called ‘D-Day+3’.
D-Day is still recognised as the largest ever seaborne invasion.
Mr Copeman joined the armed forces in September 1942, specialising as a driver and wireless operator.
He landed on Gold Beach on June 9, 1944, and ultimately fought through to the war’s conclusion in Germany a year later.
Mr Chilvers, meanwhile, started his service in Octber 1943, fighting until the end of the conflict in the role of anti-tank gunner, before moving on to a tour of duty in Palestine.
Years later, they both joined the Dickleburgh RBL, on January 1, 1990, and November 14, 1991, respectively.
At the presentation for Mr Chilvers over the weekend, the Reverend Norman Steer, Dickleburgh branch chaplain, said: “It is an honour for me and for the Dickleburgh branch to present you with France’s highest honour.
“You have everyone’s grateful thanks for your selfless act.”