D-Day planner is first woman to get honour

The first woman to be awarded the Legion d’honneur by the French ambassador in London has spoken of her joy at making it to the ceremony.

Marsie Taylor, 96, who helped plan the D-Day landings, was given France’s highest distinction at a ceremony with 18 other veterans at the French Ambassador’s Residence in London yesterday.

She said, laughing: “When I knew I’d got this award, I thought, ‘I must try and stay alive until then’.

“And then the time got a bit nearer and I thought, ‘I mustn’t fall over or do anything awful’.”

Mrs Taylor, who was in the Women’s Royal Naval Service and helped plan the Normandy landings 72 years ago, said receiving the medal was “a terrific honour”.

The Londoner said it was “most unexpected” to be the first woman awarded the Legion d’honneur by the French Ambassador.

Ambassador Sylvie Bermann, who appeared to well up during the ceremony, said it was particularly special to award the medal to a woman.

“I’m very grateful to all of them, men and women of course, but since it was the first woman it was important for me, being also a woman. It’s important they are recognised also.”

She said: “It’s a very emotional thing, even if it’s not the first time. Each time it’s very very moving because they are now more than 90 years old and I imagine them being less than 20 and fighting for the liberation of my country.”

The Legion d’honneur recognises acts of the utmost bravery and was awarded to the Second World War veterans yesterday for the service they paid to France more than 70 years ago.

On the 70th anniversary of D-Day in 2014 it was announced that all British veterans who fought in the liberation of France in the Second World War would be awarded with the distinction.

Since then, more than 3,500 medals have been awarded to veterans in the UK and another 1,000 are still to come.