Veteran who helped liberate Bergen-Belsen concentration camp honoured with Legion D’Honneur
PUBLISHED: 15:24 28 November 2016 | UPDATED: 16:57 29 November 2016
Fred Preston was joined by family and friends on Saturday
A veteran of the second world war received France’s highest military honour at the weekend.
Great-grandfather Fred Preston was joined by family and friends on Saturday, where he was given the Legion D’Honneur for his help in liberating the country and his service across Europe.
Four generations of the brave veteran’s family came together at the award presentation, which happened at Copperfields care home in Higham.
The 91-year-old was born in Ditton in 1925, and moved to Gravesend with his parents when he was eight-years-old.
Mr Preston volunteered and joined the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment in 1943.
Having trained in Dorset, the then 18-year-old was shipped over to France on the second day of the D-Day landings, arriving with armoured tanks that would move through France and help liberate Europe from the Nazis.
Daughter Sharon Climpson shared some of her father’s experiences with The Reporter: “He went through France, Belgium, Germany and Denmark.
“He saw some absolutely horrendous battles during his time over there, which he still struggles to talk about.
“He was at Bergen-Belsen when it was liberated, and he spent the last weeks of the war clearing up the mess there.”
Bergen Belsen, known as the concentration camp where diarist Anne Frank died, was liberated in April 1945.
When Allied forces arrived at the gates, they discovered around 60,000 prisoners inside and up to 13,000 unburied corpses.
“Receiving this award is an honour for him, it was a very special day” added Mrs Climpson. “We’ve got to remember those men and woman who have fought and died for us in any war, not just the second world war, because without those people we wouldn’t have our freedom today.