MP to help push for top honour

D-Day landings survivor Russell Dunkeld from Lancaster.
D-Day landings survivor Russell Dunkeld from Lancaster.

Lancaster MP Cat Smith has joined the fight to help D-Day landings veteran Russell Dunkeld receive a top honour before he dies.

Russell, 89, has terminal cancer and his family is trying to get his Legion d’Honneur medal – France’s top military honour – to recognise his bravery during World War Two.

Widowed father-of-two Russell was just 18 when he took part in the D-Day landings and, aboard HM Landing Ship (tank) 304, was one of the first to arrive on French soil at Sword Beach on June 6 1944.

Ms Smith has said she will contact the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in a bid to speed up the process for Mr Dunkeld and his family.

County Coun Darren Clifford, the champion for armed forces veterans, has also written to the MOD.

He was told that the MOD have contacted the French authorities to inform them of Mr Dunkeld’s deterioration of health and have been promised a three week turnaround time for his medal.

Meanwhile, Mr Dunkeld’s family has planned a temporary “mock” ceremony with the help of Peter Donnelly from the King’s Own museum in Lancaster to award Russell with a temporary Legion d’Honneur medal on Monday, in lieu of his own.