A former Kirkcaldy policeman has been awarded France’s highest honour for his part in the D-Day landings.
Louis Wooldridge (96) was an RAF tailgunner supporting the ground troops from the air whilst they landed on the beaches at Normandy on June 4, 1944.
In 2014, French President, Francois Hollande, pledged to give the Légion d’Honneur – France’s highest order for military and civil merits – to all surviving UK veterans of the campaign which helped to liberate the country from the Nazis.
Louis was given the award at a ceremony at the Adam House Care Home in Dysart, where his daughter Fran Long is manager, by Emmanuel Cocher, French Consulate General.
In his speech M Cocher said he felt “emotional” and wanted to express his gratitude to Louis for the part he played that day, before bestowing the order of a Knight of the Légion d’Honneur upon him.
“It’s thanks to people like you Mr Wooldridge that our people managed to regain our pride and our place in the world after the war,” he said.
“We need brave men like you to go out to do the impossible and succeed, in order to preserve our freedoms and institutions, and our happiness and prosperity.”
Louis said he was “honoured” to receive the award and added: “I’m lucky to be here at all”.
Born in Staleybridge in Cheshire, Louis began his National Service in the RAF in 1939 when the second world war broke out.
He was initially sent to a maintenance unit to work on aircraft and eventually worked his way up to become an RAF tailgunner with the Halifax Sqaudron.
After retiring from the RAF, Louis, who had his memoirs published in a book ‘Day Squire – Knight Flier’, moved to Scotland after meeting his late wife Helen.
For 30 years until his retirement in 1976, he worked as a policeman around Fife – first in Markinch, then Kirkcaldy, before being moved to Cowdenbeath where he finished his career.
Fran called his latest medal “fantastic”. She said: “The D-Day landings helped stop the war and freed France, and dad played his part.”
“Among his other medals is the Distinguished Flying Cross, which he was awarded for his flying career.
“It was very unusual for a tailgunner to survive as it was the most dangerous part of a bomber to be in and did completed two tours which included around 60 missions.”
Kirkcaldy MP Roger Mullin paid tribute to Louis, saying: “I think it’s tremendous after all these years that the achievements of people like Louis are now being recognised.”
He added: “Many of us wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Louis and so many other people.”