A 92-year-old Doagh native is to receive France’s highest medal for his service during World War 2, 70 years after the conflict ended.
Frank Ferguson, who was born in Holestone and now lives in Ballycarry, was a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force Fighter Command 264 Squadron (mosquitoes).
During the 70th anniversary of D-Day last year, French President Francois Hollande announced that all surviving British veterans who fought in France during the war would receive the recognition.
“I was surprised to get the Legion d’Honneur, it’s a very big honour,” said local man Frank, who joined the RAF at the tender age of 18 in 1941.
Frank was stationed at Chateau de Berneville, which had been the German headquarters for the region.
“France was devastated, it was nothing but rubble,” he recalled.
“Normandy was the battlefield and it was burnt to blazes. We moved from the Chateau de Berneville to Caen and the town was just rubble.”
Frank also witnessed the toll of the Battle of the Falaise Gap.
“The Germans resisted and we went down there to get rifles, there were so many bodies that the smell was diabolical,” he continued.
“I was 21 years old when I saw that but in those days you just got on with it.”
He was involved in the Defence of Arnhem and the notorious Battle of the Bulge, when the Germans succeeded in breaking into France.
On one occasion, Frank and his pilot, Squadron Leader Elwell, were patrolling over France in their light but fast Mosquito aircraft, which was made of only balsa wood and paper, when they encountered five enemy aircraft.
“It was one Mosquito against five Focke Wulf 190s,” he recalled.
“We shot down two and then ran out of ammunition so we had to pull out.”
Frank was involved in the “more risky” night flights, which involved manoeuvring behind the enemy to shoot them down.
“The Germans were bombing and they couldn’t be shot down by Spitfires and Tempests while we were in the twin-engine mosquitoes,” he continued.
“We lived from day to day. Out of 64 members of the squadron 16 didn’t come back.”
Frank was also involved in Victory Holland and Victory Germany.
Last year, he attended the 70th anniversary celebrations for D-Day in France.
He is hoping to receive the Legion d’honneur at an RAF concert in the Waterfront Hall this December.