Supply dropper Stanley gets French title for war bravery

During the Second World War, RAF veteran Stanley David helped deliver supplies and agents to the French Resistance.

(Left to right) Stanley David, Captain François Jean and Derek Wood
(Left to right) Stanley David, Captain François Jean and Derek Wood

He carried out 52 missions during the war while he was just a teenager.

But Stanley wasn’t scared – it was an honour to serve his country.

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The honour is now all his after the 91-year-old from Littlehampton was presented with France’s highest honour on Friday.

French Consul Captain François Jean presented the Légion d’Honneur to Stanley and two other RAF veterans at Tangmere Military Aviation Museum.

Captain Jean said he was delighted to enrol them as Chevaliers of the Légion d’Honneur on behalf of the President of France.

Stanley and his fellow medal recipient Derek Wood served with the RAF’s 624 special duties squadron, which from 1943 to 1944 was based at Blida near Algiers, Algeria.

Made up primarily of 10 to 15 Halifax and Stirling bombers, the squadron parachuted Allied secret agents, US special forces teams and supplies for various resistance groups into southern France and other parts of Europe.

Of his 52 war missions, 46 were in France and the others were in Greece, Albania and what was Yugoslavia.

Stanley remembered that to drop off their cargo they would have to fly as low as 300ft and weave their way through 10,000ft-high mountain ranges.

Only the navigator knew where they were going, so that they couldn’t reveal any information if they were captured.

Stanley said his overwhelming memory of the war was the bravery of the groups they were delivering to, many of whom were captured by the Gestapo.

But the veteran said he didn’t consider what he did as brave.

“When you’re 18 or 19 you always think positively. We had a job to do and we just did it. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world; I did something for the country, that was the most important thing.”

Stanley’s son Charlie travelled from Cyprus for the ceremony.

His other son Simon, his daughter-in-law Sarah and his three grandchildren also travelled from San Francisco to see Stanley presented with his medal.