Llandudno WWII blind veteran receives medal for helping liberate France from the Nazis
19 April 2016 09:53
A Second World War veteran from Llandudno has been awarded Chevalier de l'Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur for his part in the liberation of France.
Arthur Wignall, 96, was presented with the honour by the Mayor of Llandudno Frank Bradfield in a special ceremony on 16 April 2016 in the Mostyn Oriel Gallery in Llandudno.
In attendance was his wife Peggy of 72 years, his grandson Colour Sergeant Gavin Wignall of the Royal Marines and John Cretney of Blind Veterans UK.
Arthur says: "It was a wonderful presentation and I was honoured by how many people were there. The Mayor of Llandudno Frank Bradfield presented the medal to me on a cushion and then pinned it on me."
John Cretney, Reception & Facilities Support Supervisor at Blind Veterans UK, says: "We're so proud of all of our veterans like Arthur and it is only right that his Service is recognised with this prestigious French medal."
Arthur joined the Royal Army Service Corps in May 1940. He first served as a Weapons Training Instructor at the Chesterfield training camp. Later, after Arthur was made a Sergeant, he was transferred to 128 Company with whom he went across to France. He landed on Gold Beach on D-day +3. Though they were given no instructions, they knew their purpose. Fighting his way through France, he later supported the Americans in Brussels and carried on fighting in The Netherlands and Germany.
Arthur remembers: "On the last day of the war, when Armistice was declared, a Corporal from our company went over and got hit by a shell. If only he hadn't gone across, he would've been able to go home."
After leaving the Army in 1946, Arthur worked for Royal Insurance Company for 37 years until retirement.
Arthur started to lose his sight later in life. He first noticed his vision wasn't what it should be when he was driving and stopped the car immediately. He was later diagnosed with age related macular degeneration.
He started to receive help and support from Blind Veterans UK in 2012. He says: "They're a wonderful charity. They don't just leave you on your own, they're always there if you need them.
"Last year we went to their garden party at Buckingham Palace to celebrate their 100th anniversary, which was marvellous. It's great to be supported and part of Blind Veterans UK."
Visit blindveterans.org.uk/support to learn more about how you can support its vital work today.