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North Tyneside veteran receives France’s highest honour

George William Crawley was made a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur during a ceremony on HMS Calliope.
George William Crawley was made a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur during a ceremony on HMS Calliope.

A North Tyneside war veteran has received one of the highest honours from France.

George William Crawley has been made a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur by Brigadier General Herve Bizeul on behalf of the President of France.

He received the award at a special event for the north east branch of the Submariners’ Association, held on HMS Calliope at Gateshead.

The Order of Legion d’Honneur is the highest order of merit for military and civil merits, and foreign nationals who have served France or the ideals upheld may receive this honour.

George joined the Royal Navy in 1941, shortly after his 17th birthday and trained as a signalman.

Serving on HMS Rodney up to 1943, he saw service in various operations in Africa and throughout the Mediterranean, including the relief of Malta and Operation Torch.

Towards the end of 1943, George was drafted onto submarines, where he served with various vessels including HMS Uproar, HMS Universal, HMS Ultimatum and also the free French submarine Curie

One of George’s memories of the Curie was the mascot on board – a dog called Radium, named after the substance discovered by Marie Curie.

George was involved in many other naval operations up to 1945/6 and returning home, served with the home fleet. Whilst based at HMS Elfin, Blyth’s depot ship, George met his future wife Freda.

They married in August 1945. George was discharged from the Royal Navy in 1946 and settled in the north east.

The presentation event at HMS Calliope was attended by George’s family and many others, including North Tyneside Council member Tommy Mulvenna, Vice Admiral Simon Lister, Captain Edward Ahlgren, submarine veterans from the north east, serving submariners from HMS Vengeance and HMS Victorious, serving members of HMS Calliope, members of HMS Calliope Association and Royal Naval Association (Tyne Branch).