MI6 veteran, 93, who played a pivotal role in the D-Day landings is rewarded with France’s highest honour
- Geoffrey Pidgeon was given honour by French ambassador Catherine Colonna
- He received the award for his work as an MI6 agent during Second World War
- He also had role in setting up wireless communications for the D-Day landings
Veteran Geoffrey Pidgeon, the 6000th recipient of the Legion d’honneur, awarded to him for his role in the liberation of France during World War II
Second World War veteran Geoffrey Pidgeon has received France’s highest civilian award, the Legion d’Honneur.
The now published author, 93, was given the award by French ambassador Catherine Colonna during a ceremony at Lancaster House for his work as an MI6 agent during the Second World War and his role in setting up wireless communications for the D-Day landings in 1944.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: ‘Thank you for all the service you have done. We owe a very great debt and we hold in the highest esteem the work of our armed forces and indeed our intelligence services.
‘The great thing about our intelligence service is that they don’t wear uniforms, they don’t wear medals, they even go home sometimes and tell their wives and husbands slight untruths about what they did during the day.
‘They don’t do it for recognition, glamour or parade. In my experience, they do it for those amazing British values that we hold dear.
French Ambassador Catherine Colonna with veteran Geoffrey Pidgeon (left) during the medal ceremony today
Geoffrey Pidgeon speaks during the medal ceremony at Lancaster House in London today
‘I know that Geoffrey fulfils those qualities.’
Before presenting the award, Ms Colonna said France presented the Legion d’Honneur with ‘a deep sense of gratitude’ for the work Mr Pidgeon did.
She added: ‘This ceremony is a tribute for all those who worked for peace, justice and freedom in the world.
‘Our country will never forget the fortitude and neither shall we.’
In Mr Pidgeon’s acceptance speech, he thanked his son John for submitting his award application on his behalf, and addressing the French ambassador, he said: ‘I am truly honoured to thank you, and through you France, for this most prestigious award.
Before presenting the award, Ms Colonna said France presented the Legion d’Honneur with ‘a deep sense of gratitude’ for the work Mr Pidgeon (pictured) did
Asked how it felt receiving the award, Mr Pidgeon said: ‘It feels quite strange at the moment, especially as I was not expecting this’
‘There are hundreds and hundreds of more worthy recipients from those awarded but perhaps few from SOE and even fewer from MI6. I accept this honour on behalf of the men I worked with.’
Before the end of his speech, he gave both the Defence Secretary and the French ambassador a copy of his book, The Secret Wireless War, which he started writing in the 2000s and surrounds his work.
Mr Wallace said: ‘It means that at this time of the year, it reminds us of the amazing sacrifice that ordinary men and women did in the war to protect us from tyranny and Adolf Hitler, and most of those people after the war went into an ordinary life, whether plumbing or construction, and that all gets forgotten, and on a day like this you can unearth it and talk about the work that people like Geoffrey did.
The now published author (pictured) was given the honour by French ambassador Catherine Colonna during a ceremony at Lancaster House
Defence secretary Ben Wallace (left) stands with French Ambassador Catherine Colonna (right) and veteran Geoffrey Pidgeon (centre)
‘And the French-British angle is all about our joint endeavour that we fought and died together to rid the world of Adolf Hitler and what he stood for.’
Asked how it felt receiving the award, Mr Pidgeon said: ‘It feels quite strange at the moment, especially as I was not expecting this, I didn’t apply for it, a man called Martin Cox living in France put my son up to it.’
He added that he was ‘absolutely astounded’ by the recognition.
Also in attendance were three of Geoffrey’s children and their families.