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French president honours three

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French President Emmanuel Macron embraces Second World War veteran Bill Mackay in Sydney.

Bill Mackay with Mr Macron.

The President of France has personally thanked three Australian Second World War veterans during a ceremony in Sydney at which they were awarded the prestigious Legion of Honour for their service during the campaign to liberate France.

The Legion of Honour is the highest honour the people of the French Republic can award to a foreign national.

His Excellency Mr Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, acknowledged the efforts of the three recipients, Bill Mackay, Norman (Sandy) Saunders and Louis Solomons, who enlisted in the British forces in the 1940s aged 16, 17 and 23 respectively.

‘It is with emotion and honour that I come to you on behalf of France to say merci,’ the President said to the three men in a stirring speech during a Commemoration Service at the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park on 2 May 2018.

DVA historians’ research was used to support the nominations of the three recipients.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hosted the ceremony along with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Mr Macron was the guest of honour.

Repatriation Commissioner Major-General Mark Kelly AO DSC was Master of Ceremonies for the event, which was organised by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to commemorate the service and sacrifice of Australian and French men and women during the First and Second World Wars.

Mr Turnbull and Mr Macron delivered moving commemorative addresses while Ms Berejiklian recited the poem ‘In Flanders Field’.

School children from Australia and France also read letters written by Australian and French soldiers from the Western Front a century ago.

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