A Second World War glider pilot who was shot in the leg and captured by German soldiers has been awarded the Legion d’Honneur medal.
Michael Brown, 92, was presented the military decoration by the French government to recognise his part in liberating France from the German forces.
Mr Brown, who recently moved to Tring, was one of 650 glider pilots from Britain’s Glider Pilot Regiment who landed his Airspeed Horsa full of troops and equipment at the Battle of Arnhem, Holland, in September 1944.
During a rescue operation to save a wounded comrade, a machine gun bullet went through his leg before he was captured by the Germans and made a prisoner of war.
Mr Brown, a sergeant in his early 20s at the time, was taken to a POW camp close to the Polish border before German soliders – fearful of the Russian troops advancing from the East – marched the prisoners across to the West.
After being liberated by American troops, Mr Brown was sent home to recover in hospital in April 1945 before returning home to Mill Hill.
The father-of-two, who has four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, said: “The advantage the gliders had over the parachutists is that we dropped 28 armed men in the same place.
“The men parachuting out of planes ended up miles apart, and it took them more than an hour to regroup.”
Mr Brown, who was married to his late wife Gwyneth for 66 years, had to undergo more than six weeks of rigorous training before he was able to get behind the controls of the Horsa.
Talking about receiving the Legion d’Honneur, Mr Brown said it was a ‘bittersweet’ moment.
He said: “The only reason I’ve got it is because I’m still alive. What about all the others who aren’t here anymore?”