IT’S been more than 70 years since George Brydon left the safety of Newhaven behind and headed across the Channel to join the Allied Forces fighting in France.
But despite the years which have elapsed since the Second World War, it was only a matter of months ago that the 90-year-old’s family discovered the true extent of his bravery.
Now the war veteran, who lives in Dunbar with his wife Elma, 88, is to be recognised at the highest level in the form of the Legion of Honour medal, the highest of all French orders.
It is thanks to Angus Brydon, one of George’s four children, that the truth of his heroics finally emerged after he took it upon himself to delve into the history books.
While he and his siblings did hear the odd story as children, the 58-year-old said they had never been able to piece it all together properly until now.
He said: “It’s been quite amazing putting the stories he used to tell us when we were kids together.
“It’s been good research as I’ve always been interested in that but it’s also been good for his history [as] he doesn’t remember that much.
“He has flashes of memory so it’s been fantastic to collate them together.”
George joined the army in July 1944 aged just 18 and was drafted into the 5th Battalion of the Black Watch. Just a few days later he was on his way to Normandy, with his first assignment being to look out for German snipers in the town of Caen. Following a defeat of the Germans at Falaise, the battalion then pushed forward to liberate Barneville sur Seine.
The Germans had already departed from the town so the Allies moved on to free the small French hamlet of Mauny following reports it was occupied by the Hitler Youth.
However things didn’t go smoothly, with heavy shelling from the Germans seeing six members of the Black Watch losing their lives.
George survived but suffered serious injuries and was evacuated back to the UK at the beginning of September. He was hospitalised for nearly a year and underwent several gruelling operations as a result.
In the years that followed George resettled in the Capital, working for many years at the Granton depot of ink manufacturers A B Fleming.
He will be awarded his new medal by Emmanuel Cocher, consul general to France, during a special reception at Gilmerton House this Friday.
Joining the ceremony will be Colonel Alex Murdoch, chairman of the Black Watch Association, and General Mike Riddell-Webster governor of Edinburgh Castle.
The occasion has been made even more special for George’s family as a recent bout of pneumonia left some fearing he might not pull through.
Angus added: “They didn’t think he was going to survive. [But] we knew this medal was coming and so did he and I think that gave him the strength not to give up.
“He realises it’s not just for him – it’s for the guys who didn’t come back.
“Everybody has got a story about the war and every story is so interesting, it’s just a lot of people don’t get to this stage to be able to tell the story.”