WWII blind veteran awarded medal for helping liberate France from the Nazis
8 September 2016 12:57
Blind veteran Fanny has been awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur for her part in the liberation of France.
Fanny Hugill was presented with the honour by Madame Josette Lebrat from the French Consulate in a special ceremony yesterday (07/09) 2016 during a lunch organised by our charity.
Fanny says: “I was much more emotional during the presentation than I thought I would be and am so grateful to Blind Veterans UK who organised the whole event.
“I appreciate Madame Lebrat coming to Bristol to present the medal and would like to thank the French Government for this very special award.”
Blind Veterans UK Chief Executive Major General Nick Caplin (Rtd) says: “We’re so proud of all of our veterans like Fanny and we are delighted that her Service has been recognised with this prestigious French medal.”
Fanny Hugill joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service (Wrens) in 1942. Working initially as a typist and then as plotter.
"As a plotter it was my job to chart and plot the routes of everything that went through the English Channel. We ran up and down ladders and plotted the courses on a large map with chinagraph pencils."
Fanny was commissioned as a 3rd Officer becoming a personal assistant to Admiral Bill Tennant. Assisting Admiral Tennant, Fanny was part of the team that planned the Normandy landings before returning to her duties as a plotting officer. She was in the Ops Room at Southwick Park on the night of the 5th / morning of the 6th of June – D-Day.
She adds: “We did know how momentous a day it was but, of course, all the planning had already been done so no one was nervous. We all had our job to do.”
She landed in Normandy in September 1944 and then transferred to just outside Paris where she worked as a Junior Duty Staff Officer and was there for 9 months. She left the Wrens in 1946, got married, had four children, and amongst other things, went on to manage a Citizens’ Advice Bureau for 11 years.
Fanny was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration in 2012 and learned about Blind Veterans UK after reading an article in The Wren Magazine.
She says: “To begin with the sight loss was very gradual but slowly I realised I wasn’t able to do certain things like driving and sewing anymore. It has continued to deteriorate since then.”
Fanny started to receive help and support from Blind Veterans UK in 2015 and has received equipment to enable to her to live independently with sight loss.
She says: “Blind Veterans UK is absolutely fantastic. The equipment like the talking books and a magnifier have made a huge difference.
“I am so glad that I read about Blind Veterans UK in The Wren. It would never have occurred to me that the charity was there for me and I would definitely recommend anyone who has served and lost their sight to get in touch.”