16th January 2020
A veteran from Devizes has been awarded the Norwegian government’s commemorative medal for his contribution to the liberation of Norway in World War II.
Mr Francis Witton, 97, joined the Royal Navy in August 1940, originally being employed at Handley Page, the British aerospace manufacturer, building the Hampden bombers at just 17 years old. Once deployed, his time in the war saw him take part in two Arctic convoys in Russia, the battle of the Atlantic, numerous North sea convoys, various operations in the Mediterranean, as well as the invasion in Sicily and Normandy.
Mr Witton has now been recognised for his involvement in the Liberation of Normandy, as his ship took the German forces surrender of the U-boat fleet at Bergan Norway.
The commemorative medal was presented by the Norwegian Defence Attaché to the United Kingdom, Colonel John Andreas Olsen, at Mr Witton’s home in Shackleton Place, the McCarthy and Stone Retirement Living Plus development in Devizes.
Colonel John Andreas Olsen comments: “We are delighted to be able to show Mr Witton our appreciation for his contribution to the liberation of Norway. He was courageous and truly deserves to be recognised for his service. He put his life in danger for our freedom and values. We are forever grateful.”
Mr Witton’s wife, Catherine, whom he has been married to for 74 years, also attended the ceremony, alongside his son, Ian.
Mr Witton adds: “I was so surprised when I found out that the Norwegian Embassy wanted to come and visit me. I’m absolutely honoured to receive this medal, it’s a real privilege. I’d like to dedicate this award to all my comrades who fought alongside me during World War II.”
Geoff Bates, Head of Marketing for McCarthy and Stone South, says: “We were really proud to be able to host the award ceremony for Mr Witton and Colonel John Andreas Olsen. His story is truly inspiring, and all of us here at McCarthy and Stone would like to say congratulations to Mr Witton on receiving this well-deserved recognition.”
Mr Witton has been residing at Shackleton Place, the McCarthy and Stone Retirement Living Plus development in Devizes, since November 2019. For more information, please call 0800 201 4811 or go to mccarthyandstone.co.uk