News Article

France honours British veterans

Last Updated: 11 Nov 2018
It is with great pride that a Bletchley Park veteran, Ruth Bourne, received France's highest honour - the Legion d'Honneur - at the French Ambassador's Residence in London.

News article - 11 November 2018


Ruth proudly wears her Legion d'Honneur medal
Ruth Bourne wearing her Legion d'Honneur medal. ©GCHQ 2018
Ruth, 92, was joined by four veterans of the RAF and Army for the presentation by His Excellency the French Ambassador to the UK, Jean-Pierre Jouyet. Ruth worked at the codebreaking base at Bletchley Park as one of the team helping Alan Turing break the Germans' Enigma code.

Ambassador Jean-Pierre Jouyet said: "Receiving the Légion d'honneur is no little affair. This honour recognises the bravery and sacrifices that exceptional individuals have made for France. It is our duty to remember and honour the actions of the brave men and women who participated in our liberation during World War II."

Two further Bletchley Park veterans will be receiving the Legion d'Honneur too. Yesterday a ceremony took place at the home of Jean Barker, Baroness Trumpington, 96. Following the presentation by the French Ambassador, Lady Trumpington said: "I feel very honoured to receive this prestigious award and thank the French President and all of you from the French Embassy. I truly have a strong affection for France. I spent many happy years in France both before the war and after when I spent four years working to put Europe's transport back together. Oh, I had such fun in Paris after the war. While this award recognized my time at Bletchley – I still find it difficult to discuss my time there as we were taught to never talk about it. I will now be able to wear by Bletchley medal along with this wonderful honour."

Sr Pamela Hussey, 96, who served as wireless telegraphist special operator on the Scarborough military base, will receive her award later this month. In her role, she intercepted, listened to, and transcribed, enemy communications in Morse Code, before sending them to Bletchley Park to be decoded.

The French Ambassador also said: "The UK's considerable efforts to unlock the secrets of the German encryption machine Enigma are now sees as one of the country's major successes during World War II. That success had its origins at Bletchley Park, 50 miles north of London, as the Government Code and Cypher School – the precursor of today’s GCHQ."

The ceremony today will follow a number of others that have taken place around the UK since the 70th anniversary of D-Day in June 2014, when former French President François Hollande pledged to honour all British veterans who had served in France during the war. France has so far had the privilege of decorating more than 5,500 D-Day veterans across the country.


The five veterans show off their medals
Ruth Bourne, and veterans of the RAF and Army, received Legion d'Honneur medals. ©GCHQ 2018