Special celebration for heroic war veteran as he turns 100
A war veteran who was awarded a prestigious military medal for his bravery has marked his 100th birthday.
Leonard Wells was surrounded by family members on a special day of celebration.
He reached his century just a year after being awarded a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur for his part in the D-Day landings.
Leonard, who is from South Shields but now lives at Hylton View Residential Home, on Old Mill Road, Sunderland, signed up to the army in 1941 and took part in the D-Day landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944.
He continues to make his family proud.
Niece Judith Weaver said: “We’re all so proud of him and wanted to give him the best 100th birthday possible.
“It was a lovely day.
“He was surrounded by lots of his relatives, and all the staff from the home were there.
“A lot of the staff who weren’t on duty even came in to celebrate with him.
“Everyone went out of their way to make it a lovely day for him.”
Leonard’s loved ones applied for a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur on his behalf.
He had been a gunner serving with the 73rd Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery and spent time in North Africa.
He took part in the Battle of El Alamein and spent time helping to liberate Sicily before his role in Normandy, which was to land on Gold Beach along with the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division and the Northumberland Hussars.
Leonard returned to England in October 1945 after fighting across North West Europe, and among the other awards he was given were the 1939-45 Star, Africa Star with 8th Army Clasp, Italy Star, France and Germany Star and the War Medal.
He became a bricklayer after the war, and helped to build many council homes in Marsden.
He lived in Cleadon Park with his wife Nancy, who died in 1998, though they never had children.
After he picked up his Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, Judith said: “It makes you quite proud to think that somebody you are related to has earned this and has been to war.
“I think everybody feels this is something very special.
“We wanted to give it to him on his birthday to make it an even bigger occasion.”