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Légion d'Honneur awarded to SOE's James Edgar

James Edgar is one of the last surviving members of SOE who served in France. He was Mentioned in Dispatches, awarded the Croix de Guerre for his service in France and he later joined an SOE special forces team in the Far East.

James is now 99 years old and lives in Western Australia. In September this year he was awarded the Légion d'Honneur, and a few weeks before the official presentation his wife Valerie informally recorded on video James' recollections of a much earlier medal ceremony in France.

Thanks to the encouragement and research provided by the SOE French Section specialist David Harrison, her footage has enabled the making of this video tribute -

James Edgar Ld'H, CdeG

James Edgar was born in May 1920 in Pietersburg, South Africa. His Scottish father had served in the second Boer war and then remained in South Africa. The family moved to Britain in 1927, when Edgar was seven years old, and in August 1940 James volunteered for the army. After three months in the Gordon Highlanders he was transferred to the Intelligence Corps, perhaps because of his language skills in French and German. He served in the Int Corps' Field Security Police, which meant he trained with would be agents for French Section, as well as conducting Norwegians to the Shetland Islands for ‘Shetland Bus’. James Edgar then trained at Anderson Manor in Dorset as part of 62 Commando, and with SOE's Small Scale Raiding Force, he took part in two raids on the Channel Islands during 1942. After wireless training he became a member of SOE's Inter-Allied Mission ‘Tilleul’ (Lime Tree) which parachuted into the Haute-Vienne area of France in July 1944, to help coordinate local resistance activities and arrange supply drops by parachute.

Sgt James Edgar was Mentioned in Dispatches and following the liberation of Limoges he was also awarded the Croix de Guerre for his service in France.

After returning to Britain Sgt James Edgar volunteered for special forces work in the Far East, and in April 1945 he was parachuted into Burma as a member of team Giraffe, as part of the Nation Operation.

James subsequently had to spend time a Ceylon hospital with dysentery, and then volunteered for peace keeping in Sumatra. He was demobilised at the end of 1946.

James Edgar qualified as a vet in Edinburgh, and after several years in practice, he moved to Western Australia to join its Dept of Agriculture. In Perth on Sept 23rd 2019 he was awarded the Légion d'Honneur by the Embassy of France in Australia.

The ceremony was held under the auspices of the France-Australia Senate Friendship Group in the presence of the Hon Peter Tinley, WA Minister for Housing and Veteran Issues, with Ms Julie Duhaut-Bedos representing the Embassy of France.

Information and images courtesy of David Harrison, Dr Richard Duckett, Valerie & James Edgar and the Embassy of France in Australia

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