Légion d’honneur for heroic Eric

Eric Hudson was awarded the National Order Knight of the Legion for his involvement in the liberation of France at a ceremony at Alderson House Bridlington by Susan Cunliffe-Lister Lord Lieutenant of East Riding of Yorkshire.
Eric Hudson was awarded the National Order Knight of the Legion for his involvement in the liberation of France at a ceremony at Alderson House Bridlington by Susan Cunliffe-Lister Lord Lieutenant of East Riding of Yorkshire.

He now sits in a humble flat, surrounded by poignant memories of a conflict for which he would eventually receive a top military honour.

Ninety-year-old Eric Hudson lives at Middleton Court off Pinfold Lane with his wife Jean. But his now cosy surroundings are a far cry from the heroism he displayed during the Second World War.

Eric Hudson during his Navy years

Eric Hudson during his Navy years

“I have waited that long,” said Eric. “I was surprised when I did get the Légion d’honneur.

“When the applications went in, I said they are not going to take my word for it - they wanted to have proof.”

But Eric had that proof, as he had already been awarded the French Victory Medal for his gallantry during the D-Day landings.

On June 6 1994 Eric’s landing craft was approaching Normandy, to provide support to American forces at Utah Beach, when he beheld a sight never to be forgotten.

Eric Hudson

Eric Hudson

“I wouldn’t have missed it,” he said, “there were hundreds of boats going over – boats with guns and boats with rockets.

“Then it all opened up. A German fighter came over and gunned us, but he didn’t last two seconds. He was blown out of the air.

“Another came near and we did the same with him!”

But Eric’s landing craft was badly damaged during the 
approach and the order was given to abandon ship.

He then helped three non-swimming comrades to the safety of another craft, but was forced to swim 300 yards to the beach because the boat had become overcrowded.

“I just flopped down when I got to the beach, but I tripped a mine. The mines were nasty, they jumped out of the ground before they exploded.”

Gravely injured, Eric stumbled a further 150 yards in the direction of some American soldiers who transported him to a field hospital.

After medics carried out emergency surgery, he was evacuated back to the Netley Field Hospital in England where he could begin his lengthy recovery.

Eric added: “I was given a Purple Heart for being wounded because they thought I was an American soldier.

“When they checked my service number, they found out I was British and took it off me!

“But I was given the French Victory Medal just after the war.”

Now, nearly 72 years after his harrowing ordeal, Eric has been awarded the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest military honour, making him a Knight of the Legion of Honour.

“It really did surprise me,” he added. “I applied on December 15 2014 - they had a lot of applications. I went to our Ministry of Defence. Then it went to the government, then the French Embassy – after a few months I thought ‘what’s happening?’ They told me more paperwork is in process because it had to be approved by the French President!

“It went back to the embassy and back to England, then I didn’t know where I stood.

“The next thing I know I had a parcel with the medal and everything.”

In the end Eric received the credit he deserved at a ceremony in Alderson House on December 17, surrounded by town mayor Cllr John Copsey as well as Susan Cunliffe-Lister, Lord Lieutenant of East Riding of Yorkshire.

Cllr Copsey said: “I was really impressed with Eric’s story so congratulations to him for such heroism.”