wartime veteran receives legion du honor

Father and Son awarded medals 100 years apart

Former sapper John McIlroy Shanks received the prestigious Légion D’Honneur from the French government, a century after dad James Shanks was awarded the Croix de Guerre.

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9 March 2016

Father and Son awarded medals 100 years apart

Former sapper John McIlroy Shanks received the prestigious Légion D’Honneur from the French government, a century after dad James Shanks was awarded the Croix de Guerre.


100 years after John Mcllroy Shanks’s father received his medal for his services in WW1, SSAFA Glasgow Branch ensured his son and former Sapper got one too. His dad James Shanks - who served with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders - was awarded the Croix de Guerre for his remarkable bravery on the killing fields of the Somme, and now John Shanks is the proud recipient of the Légion D’Honneur.

John was just 19 when he stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day on June 6, 1944. He served in the Royal Engineers making bridges over rivers and canals so that tanks and infantry soldiers could push towards Germany, and actually witnessed the mass surrender of German forces at the end of war. Talking of his time in the Army, the 90 year old John Shanks said ‘It was great to get the medal especially after my dad got his in World War One. I joined the army at 17 and I never regretted it. It was the greatest experience of my life.’

The French government has been awarding the prestigious gong to D-Day veterans as a way of honouring and thanking those who fought and risked their lives to secure France’s liberation during the Second World War.