Adam is third Gala war veteran to be given French honour for D-Day role in less than a year

Former ice-cream man Adam Kelly was officially recognised for his part in the liberation of France during the Second World War this week.

Thursday, 19th January 2017, 8:34 am
Updated Thursday, 19th January 2017, 8:37 am
Galashiels veteran Adam Kelly.

Adam, 94, joined eight other Scottish veterans in receiving the French National Order of the Legion of Honour at a ceremony in Edinburgh Castle on Monday evening in recognition of their service during the 1944 D-Day Landings in Normandy.

They were presented with France’s highest decoration by French consul general Emmanuel Cocher.

Adam, awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s latest new year honours list, was attached to the 51st Highland Division as a driver as part of the Royal Army Service Corps.

After landing in Normandy at Lion-sur- Mer on June 12, he saw action near Caen, and then advanced through France and Belgium.

He was accompanied to the ceremony by his wife Elizabeth and friends Roy and Jennifer Thomson.

“We had a grand night,” Adam said. “There were quite a few other veterans there, and they were all very sociable.

“There were some French students there who sang their national anthem, then we sang ours, everyone received their medals and there was tea and cake.”

Adam was called up in 1941 and was posted to El Alamein, Tobruk, Benghazi, Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers and across to Sicilily and Italy before playing his part in the D-Day landings and subsequent liberation of France in 1944.

With the majority of the fellow veterans at the ceremony coming from Edinburgh, Adam did not know any of them.

He explained: “The 51st Highlanders were based in Perth. I just got called up and had to go where I was told. I was in the Army for six years.

“It was a long time ago, but it is nice for us all to be recognised.”

Adam is the third Galashiels veteran to be decorated with the honour, following in the footsteps of Jackie Webster, 97, and George Coltman, 95, both given theirs last year.

The National Order of the Legion of Honour is the highest French order for military and civil merits, established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte.

A spokesperson from the French Consulate in Edinburgh said: “The Consul General decorated nine British veterans for the landing and liberation of France in the presence of nearly 200 people.

“A beautiful way to start the year is to honour those heroes to whom we owe the peace, independence and rediscovered honour of our nation.”