Paul Tunn at an Anzac Day Dawn Service at Yarraman (Photo: Jim Bond)
Paul Tunn and his World War II uniform which is on display at Heritage House's Military Museum (Photo: Jim Bond)

June 9, 2015

Yarraman resident Paul Tunn will soon have a new medal to wear on Anzac Day … a very special decoration from the French Government.

The World War II veteran has been awarded the Chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur, ie a Legion of Honour medal, for his war service in the skies over France.

The former RAAF airman received a letter from the French Ambassador to Australia, Christophe Lecourtier, in May but he didn’t want to make a big fuss at the time because he didn’t know when he would actually receive the medal.

But the ceremony is now just days away.

On Friday afternoon (June 12), Paul, 93, will be presented with the Legion of Honour medal by M. Lecourtier in a ceremony at the Coorparoo RSL Club in Brisbane.

The medal recognises Paul’s outstanding service as a Flying Officer during World War II.

It will also be 71 years to the day since Paul’s Halifax bomber took off for its first raid over France.

The seven-man crew, part of 158 Squadron, made their first operational sortie just six days after D-Day to Amiens in northern France where they bombed a rail junction and marshalling yards.

It was a baptism of fire, with the mid-upper gunner shooting down a German fighter, a Focke-Wulf 190.

Paul continued to take part in missions over France during June and July 1944, before his crew was directed to mainly German sites.

All up, Paul took part in 36 sorties over France and Germany between June and November 1944, serving as the wireless operator in the Halifax crew.

“This is France’s way to express gratitude toward those who risked their lives for the Liberation of France,” M. Lecourtier wrote in his letter.

What Is The Legion Of Honour?

The Legion of Honour is the premier order of the French Republic.It was created by Napoleon Bonaparte on May 19, 1802, as a general military and civil order of merit conferred without regard to birth or religion provided that anyone admitted swears to uphold liberty and equality.

True to the stated ideals of Napoleon when founding the order, the membership of the Legion is remarkably egalitarian.

Both men and women, French citizens and foreigners, civilians and military personnel – irrespective of rank, birth, or religion – can be admitted to any of the classes of the Legion.

The President of France serves as grand master, and the order is administered by a civil chancellor with the help of a council nominated by the grand master.

The Legion has five classes: Grand Cross (limited to 80 members), Grand Officer (200), Commander (1000), Officer (4000), and Knight or Chevalier (unlimited).

[Ref: Encyclopedia Brittanica]

Paul Tunn looks over his log book which details his training and his 36 sorties over Europe

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