Dennis Young from Lynton, who served from D-Day to the fall of Nazi Germany, receives France’s highest honour

A World War two hero from Lynton who fought his way right across Europe despite being wounded has been presented with the highest French honour.

Cyril Dennis Young – known as Dennis – was formally appointed to the rank of Chevalier in the Ordre national de la Légion d’Honneur at Lynton Town Hall today.

Mr Young, who celebrated his 98th birthday yesterday, was presented with his medals by Alain Sibiril, French Honorary Consul to the South West.

Recounting Mr Young’s active service with The Somerset Light Infantry, which took him from French beaches to the heart of Germany, Mr Sibiril said: “Mr Young you contributed valiantly to the liberation of France from Nazi occupation.”

Mr Sibiril also told a story before the presentation to explain the 70-year-old French flag on display, which he said had been made by a woman who fought for the French resistance and was used to celebrate the liberation of her town.

Mr Young served with the 4th Battalion, the ‘Prince Alberts’, as a rifleman and mortarman, campaigning in north western Europe from just after D-Day until the end of the war.

Honorary French Consul Alain Sibiril with Dennis Young after presenting him with the Legion d'Honneur. Picture: Tony GussinHonorary French Consul Alain Sibiril with Dennis Young after presenting him with the Legion d'Honneur. Picture: Tony Gussin

He was wounded in the battle of Caen on August 22, 1945 and transferred back to the UK, but later returned to active duty in France that year, fighting with his unit to the River Elbe in Germany.

The oldest of five brothers and one sister, Mr Young was born in Withycombe in East Devon but spent most of his adult life in Lynton and was well known by everyone.

His jobs included working as an RAC motorcycle patrolman as well as a Lynmouth car park attendant.

He said it was ‘wonderful’ to receive the Legion d’Honneur medal and he was very pleased.

Speaking at the start of the presentation, which was attended by the Lynton mayor Suzette Hibbert, Mr Young’s family and guests, his niece Jenny Baxter said the family had all known of his military exploits but ‘he did not make a big thing of it’.

She added: “When my husband Mike joined the family they spent hours talking about the war and pouring over maps marking Dennis’ journey through France.”

His niece Moira Dlugosz said he was always completely modest about his military service, but they were immensely proud of him and pleased to be there for the occasion.