D-Day veteran awarded long-awaited Legion of Honour

11 May 2018

D-Day veteran awarded long-awaited Legion of Honour

SSAFA Perth and Kinross officiate at the presentation of a long awaited Legion of Honour to Duncan Foster, a ninety five year old veteran of the Normandy Landings. 

Mr Foster was born in Glasgow in 1925 and moved to Perth when his father became the Station Master at Perth Railway Station.  Whilst there he joined the Railway Home Guard and eventually enlisted and became a Queen’ Own Cameron Highlander.  After basic training, he was sent to the South of England to prepare for the D-Day Landings in June 1944, landing in Normandy the day after D Day. 

He saw service from St Honorine in Normandy, to Eindhoven in Holland, and then on to the crossing of the Rhine and the charge across Germany, finishing at Cuxhaven and a Victory parade at Bremerhaven.  Despite being shot and wounded by a German aircraft he went on serve in the British Army of the Rhine from 1945 – 1947. After his retirement he returned to Scotland and settled in Kinross. Retired colonel Andy Middlemiss, deputy lieutenant for Perth and Kinross, who led Wednesday’s ceremony said: “He is truly a remarkable man in many, many ways.”

The Legion of Honour was conferred on Mr Foster by the French Consul General in Edinburgh, Monsieur Emmanuel Cocher.  The following short passage was read out to set the scene by Major George Givens of the Queen’s Own Highlanders Regimental Association and SSAFA caseworker from Fife:

The 5th Battalion of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders were part of the 51st Highland Division that landed in Normandy in June 1944, the day after D Day. 

They were to spend some very unpleasant months in the Ornemouth area of France and were to experience some quite nasty knocks, for it was in that area that enemy forces were to resist most determinedly, and were to counter-attack very strongly.

Shortly after landing on the Normandy beaches, the 5th Cameron’s were given the task of capturing the village of St Honorine, whilst the 2nd Battalion the Seaforth Highlanders were to take Demouville. 

The initial attack by the Cameron’s on the 13th June 1944 did not wholly succeed because of very heavy artillery fire and a counter attack by enemy troops, supported by tanks. 

The tremendous concentration of enemy artillery fire at the time also made it impossible for the 2nd Seaforth to advance south to Demouville.

The 5th Cameron’s were therefore put into a defensive position at Longueval, with the 5th Seaforth’s filling the gap between them and the 2nd Seaforth.

On the 22nd June 1944, the 5th Cameron’s were sent back to have another crack at St Honorine.  This time there was no artillery support, but tanks were made available to assist in the attack. 

By half past eight in the morning, the Cameron’s were well and truly into the village, and by ten o’clock, the mopping up operation was practically completed.

The Cameron’s however, had to withstand several very vicious counter-attacks, but held their positions until relieved that night, when they went back to Herouvillette.

Two months later in August 1944, the 5th Cameron’s were to take part in the breakout, and the Battle of the Falaise Gap. 

On the 1st September they relieved St Valery where the Division had had to surrender in 1940.

Christmas 1944 was spent fighting in the Ardennes in sub-zero conditions to counter the enemy offensive known as the Battle of the Bulge.

The 5th Cameron’s were then to be part of the 51st Highland Division that spearheaded the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945.  They continued to be involved in fighting right up to the German surrender on the 5th May later that year”

Accompanying Mr Foster at the investiture was his wife of sixty two years – Mrs Sally Foster and four of their five children.