A Vienna-born care home resident in Edgware has been awarded the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits, aged 97.
Walter Kraus, who lives at Sydmar Lodge Care Home on Hale Lane, added the Chevalier (Knight) de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur to his collection this week, and plans to wear it at the next AJEX Parade.
Now a great-grandfather, Walter was born in Vienna in 1919, but escaped following the Anschluss (Nazi occupation).
He was first interned in Belgium before arriving in England in August 1939 where, as an “enemy alien,” he volunteered to join the British Army on his 20th birthday.
Alongside other German, Austrian and Czech refugees, Corporal Kraus served in the Pioneer Corps (74th Company) in the Battle of France, from February to June 1940, before being evacuated from Brest during Operation Ariel.
Four years later, he took part in the Normandy landings and the liberation of France, landing at Arromanches shortly after D-Day, serving in France, Belgium and Germany.
He served with the British Military government at Aachen from 1945 to 1946, before marrying Charlotte Arendar in 1949, who sadly passed away in 2015. They had three children, 12 grandchildren and six great-children.
This week Walter said: “I was touched to receive the award, it is very nice. But on the other hand I think of those who didn’t come back, who are still in the fields, in Flanders.”
Sydmar Lodge Activities Co-ordinator Robert Speker said: “Mr Kraus is a very humble and compassionate gentleman. We are delighted to celebrate this honour awarded to a very deserving recipient.”