BLETCHLEY Park veteran Betty Webb MBE was officially presented with her prestigious Légion d’Honneur by Col Patrick Bryant, Air and Space Attaché at the French Embassy in the UK.
The ceremony took place at the Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre in Birmingham where Mrs Webb was surrounded by family and friends.
The ‘Insignia of Chevalier in the Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur – to give the accolade its full title – is France’s highest honour for her work at Bletchley Park on the code breaking team which intercepted and deciphered messages from Nazi forces, relating to their plans.
Charlotte ‘Betty’ Webb joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service at the age of 18 and was stationed at Bletchley Park, the famous codebreaking arm of the British intelligence services.
As a German speaker, Mrs Webb was tasked with decoding and translating German ‘Enigma’ messages, handling some of the first intelligence messages on the Holocaust.
Upon joining the ATS – the women’s branch of the military at the time – Mrs Webb signed the Official Secrets Act, which prevented her from talking about her work at Bletchley Park until 1975.
Since then, Mrs Webb has written a memoir and was awarded an MBE for her services. Her courage and dedication remain an inspiration to all.
Upon being presented with the insignia, Mrs Webb said: “I am absolutely honoured to be awarded the Légion d’Honneur. It is very important to me, not just as a person but as a member of the Bletchley Park team.”
Col Bryant said: “I have the honour and privilege of presenting Mrs Webb the Légion d’Honneur for her service at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.
“This medal is our humble recognition of her commitment to fighting against the Nazis and the role she played in the Liberation of France.
“An act of courage that shall not be forgotten.
“Since 2014, France has awarded the Légion d’Honneur to more than 6,000 British veterans in recognition of their sacrifice and participation in the Liberation of France.
“This further highlights the depth of our bilateral ties, as France and the UK have supported each other through many chapters of our history.”
Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid, who became Health Secretary last Saturday, recorded a special video message for the ceremony.
In it he paid tribute to Betty’s work, adding he wished he could have been there today and joking: ‘I have a pretty full in tray at the moment’.
On her award he added: “I am delighted that Betty has received this award from the French Government.
“Betty has led a remarkable life and contributed so much to our country and freedom in Europe.
““I am honoured to call Betty my friend and we are all very proud of her fantastic achievement.
“I would like to thank the French Government for recognising her service with this award.”