WWII Paratrooper Receives Awards the Day Before his Death

A SAS veteran has passed away only a day after being awarded France’s highest acknowledgements for bravery in battle – the white cross and the crimson ribbon Legion D’Honneur. George Butler, a Parachute Regiment sergeant, passed away at the age of 96 the very morning after the distinctions were delivered to his home by post.

The award is part of French president Francois Hollande’s promise to honour British veterans who assisted in the liberation of France over 70 years ago. George’s son Patrick said “He was aware the medal had arrived and was pleased to see it.” It was delivered along with a letter from the French Ambassador Sylvie Bermann by post to his house in Brecon, Powys on Monday, October 5.

George was awarded the medals for his participation in the D-Day landings as part of the Parachute Forces. He crossed the English Channel on a glider, landed behind enemy lines and helped to secure an area close to Pegasus Bridge, which was a key position in the invasion. He recalled that the tension in air on D-Day had an “atmosphere which could have struck up a match”.

George enrolled as a solider in the East Lancashire Regiment and spent a year training with the Parachute Regiment before the D-Day invasion in 1944. He was a dedicated soldier and remained with the Army after the war, going on to fight the Communists in the Malaysian jungles as an SAS member, the Wales Online reports.

George retired from the Army in 1962 as a Company Sergeant Major, and began a career as a caretaker in a school. He had immense respect for the army, and for his friends and companions who passed during the war. “He travelled to Normandy for the 70th anniversary of the landings even though he was ill, but he was a determined old soldier,” said his son Patrick. “And it was a great thrill for him to sit next to Prince Charles at the special service.”

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE