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Previous Ministers' releases and speeches - Senator The Hon. Michael Ronaldson

Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Special Minister of State

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Saturday, 1 November 2014
VA085

THREE AUSTRALIAN VETERANS TO RECEIVE FRANCE’S HIGHEST HONOUR

Three Australian Second World War veterans will be presented with France’s highest honour, the Legion of Honour, at the Albany Convoy Commemorative Event being held in Albany, Western Australia.

The Legion of Honour is the highest decoration bestowed by France. Among the recipients of the award are those Australians who risked their lives in the service of France during the Second World War.

Today’s ceremony follows a Department of Veterans' Affairs mission that was held in June of this year when seven Australian veterans returned to France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Normandy Campaign.

During their trip, those who hadn’t previously received the Legion of Honour were presented with the award in a special ceremony in Caen. They were joined by veterans from other Allied nations including Canada and the United States, in what was a truly unforgettable occasion for the veterans.

Today we are privileged to see three more Australian Second World War veterans – Thomas Lofthouse of Bunbury, and brothers Eric and Murray Maxton of Albany - receive the Legion of Honour in Albany. I will join the Minister of Defence of the French Republic, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian  who will today present the award to these three men who we are privileged to honour in their home state of Western Australia.

Thomas Lofthouse flew a thirty-six operation tour as an Air Gunner in No. 466 Squadron RAAF, later completing a further ten operations of a second tour as a Rear Gunner with No. 77 Squadron RAF. On this second tour, Tom flew several operations in direct support of the D-Day landings, targeting coastal guns and railway yards.

Brothers Eric and Murray Maxton share a unique story, having served on the same crew in 460 Squadron during the Second World War. Their first operation on 7 July 1944, took them over Caen in support of the Allied campaign in Normandy. They went on to fly more than 30 operations together.

We acknowledge those Australians who lost their lives in operations associated with the D-Day Landings, and all of the 39,000 Australian service personnel who lost their lives during the Second World War.

All veterans who served in France with Allied forces during the Second World War are eligible for the Legion of Honour. For more information on the Legion of Honour award please visit the DVA media centre.

Media inquiries:
Minister Ronaldson: Jordi Procel 02 6277 7820 or 0448 232 908
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) and Veterans Line can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046

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