Four South Australian World War II veterans decorated with the Legion of Honour

Source: Veterans SA

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Mr Howard Hendrick DFC with the Adelaide Lord Mayor Martin Haese.

On Thursday 20 April four South Australian World War II veterans were appointed Knights of the Legion of Honour (Chevalier legion d’honneur) by the Ambassador of France to Australia, His Excellency Mr Christophe Lecourtier.  The Legion of Honour was an institution that was open to all men, although initially only Frenchmen, who had either acted bravely on the battlefield or had served civil France in some exemplary way. The award is the highest decoration bestowed by the French Government.

Mr Kevin Dennis, Mr Thomas Goode and Mr Howard Hendrick DFC were presented their awards at a ceremony held at Adelaide Town Hall. Mr Peter Dickson was unable to attend the ceremony but was presented his award by the Ambassador at the Murray Mudge Nursing Home in Glenelg earlier in the day.

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Second World War, the President of the French Republic determined to honour veterans who fought for the liberation of France by bestowing them the insignia of the Legion of Honour.

The French Legion of Honour is an order of distinction first established by Napoleon Bonaparte in May 1802. The award is decided by the President of the French Republic and is subject to strict examination. The delivery of the Legion of Honour is the subject of a solemn ceremony in which a French representative thanks the recipient for their services for France.

Director of Veterans SA, Rob Manton, spoke at the function and paid tribute to the four veterans being honoured and the enduring French-Australian friendship.

“Australians tend to shy away from the use of overly praiseworthy terms such as hero and I am sure these gentlemen … see themselves in that laconic soldierly manner of being ordinary men simply doing their job. That may be true but they did extraordinary things at a time of great peril.

Their contribution to the Allied war effort took place during a very difficult time in history. But I am certain they would agree with me when I say that their courage, service and sacrifice was replicated by their friends, colleagues and mates, many who did not return.”

Today, we also remember the longstanding French-Australian friendship. As we in Australia pause during this centenary of Anzac period to commemorate a century of service, particularly this year when we will commemorate our involvement on the Western Front at Passchendaele and in the Middle East at Beersheva in October, you, our Legion of Honour recipients, are a link in a chain that binds our two countries together.  France and Australia have always stood shoulder to shoulder. Culturally we have differences, but our values of freedom and democracy are things we have fought together to defend.”

On behalf of the Government of South Australia and the people of this State, thank you for your service. You are true heroes and your recognition today is richly deserved.”

The following veterans were honoured on 19 April 2017

Mr. Kevin DENNIS

Date enlisted:              7 November 1942
Place enlisted:             Adelaide
Discharge date:           7 June 1946

Rank on discharge: Warrant Officer
Role: Wireless operator / Air Gunner

Mr. Dennis joined the RAAF in 1942 and served in the 462 Squadron RAF. As a Wireless operator / Air gunner, Mr. Dennis carried out many bombing missions over Europe.

Mr. Thomas GOODE

Date enlisted:              6 December 1941
Place enlisted:             Adelaide
Discharge date:           22 February 1946

Rank on discharge:  Flight Lieutenant
Role: Air Crew

Mr. Goode joined the RAAF in 1941 and served in the 10 Squadron and 461 Squadron RAF. Mr. Goode carried out 68 operational sorties over Europe.

Mr. Howard HENDRICK

Date enlisted:              25 April 1942
Place enlisted:             Adelaide
Discharge date:           3 January 1946

Rank on discharge: Flying Officer
Role: Pilot of Lancaster bomber Aircraft

Mr. Hendrick joined the RAAF in 1942 and served in the 460 Squadron Bomber Command. As a pilot of Lancaster Bomber, Mr. Hendrick carried out 31 missions over Europe.

Mr. Peter Dickson

Date enlisted:              19 November 1942
Discharge date:           3 March 1945

Rank on discharge: Flying Officer
Role: Air (Rear) gunner

Mr. Dickson joined the RAAF in 1942 and served as a Rear Gunner with 51 Squadron at 19 years old. In a seven month period Peter flew a total of 32 day/night bombing missions over France and Germany.

Caption: (L to R) Mr Kevin Dennis, Dr Thomas Goode and Mr Howard Hendrick DFC