He served his country with distinction for 30 long years.

And now a 95-year-old former “Duke” has returned to Huddersfield to receive a top French military honour.

Lt Col Hugh Le Messurier, who spent two years based in Huddersfield, received the Légion d’honneur for his efforts in liberating France during the Second World War.

Lt Col Hugh Le Messurier was commissioned into the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment on December 31, 1939, just after the outbreak of the war.

At the Army Reserve Centre in Huddersfield he was presented with the Légion d’honneur and was appointed to the rank of Chevalier, (Knight), by Colonel George Kilburn MBE DL, Honorary Colonel of the Yorkshire Regiment.

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The award was given on behalf of the French President.

Col Kilburn reminded his audience of military personnel and members of their families of the history of the decoration.

In fluent French he recalled Napoleon’s wise words when the Order was established by him in 1802: “You call these baubles, well, it is with baubles that men are led. The soldier needs glory, distinction, rewards.”

However, to laughter he said he would forego the French custom of kissing the recipient on both cheeks.

Legion d'Honneur presented to Lt Col Hugh Le Messurier at St Pauls Drill Hall.

Lt Col Le Messurier served across Europe with 1/7th Battalion DWR (TA) before going on to complete a full regular career which saw him serve around the world including spells in Egypt, Palestine, Suda, Bermuda, Korea, Gibraltar and Northern Ireland.

He left regular service in 1970 after a 30-year career but ran the Catterick Training Centre for a further 15 years before finally retiring in 1985.

He was Mentioned in Despatches in NW Europe and Kenya.

In accepting the award Lt Col Le Messurier, who now lives in Masham, North Yorks, said: “Thank you all for coming and it a very special day for me. Sadly, my wife Rosemary, (who is 99), is unable to attend.”

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Also unable to attend was one of his daughters, Jacquine Gaskell, of Old Malton, North Yorks, who was born in Huddersfield during her father’s two-year service as an Adjudant of the 7th Battalion.

But the ceremony was attended by his daughter Susan Green-Armytage who was born in Bermuda and now lives in Barnes, SW London.

She said: “It’s a very proud day for him and his family and he is so delighted to see so many people come and support him.”