SWAPPING a bank for the battlefield has seen a veteran receive a prestigious French medal.
Geoffrey Rushton has been awarded with the Legion d’Honneur for his role as a navigator in Lancaster bombers during the Second World War.
It is such a lovely honour and I was very, very pleased.Geoffrey Rushton
At the start of the war, the 91-year-old was working in a Gosport bank but he signed up aged 17.
When he was 19 he flew to Germany with the Royal Air Force to drop bombs and lay mines in 1944 and 1945.
It was his role in the 31 trips he took which saw him get the French medal.
Mr Rushton, from Alverstoke, in Gosport, said: ‘I was thrilled to bits when I received it.
‘It is such a lovely honour and I was very pleased.
‘I’m thankful to the French government for awarding it to me and appreciating what I did in the war.
‘I thought it was a marvellous gesture by the French.’
Mr Rushton had written to the Ministry of Defence when he found out he might be eligible to get the medal.
After detailing his role in the war, his information was given to the French who then sent the medal to him in the post.
He added: ‘It was a very proud moment when I got the letter.
‘I will be wearing the medal on Armistice Day.
‘It is a shame that most of the men who served with me didn’t get the chance to have theirs.’
When the war ended, Mr Rushton went back to the bank and became branch manager.
He then went on to be a director in the southern region looking after 100 branches.
Outside work, he became mayor of Gosport and was made an honorary alderman of the town.
‘I just went straight back to my job and my normal life after the war,’ he said.
‘I spent about four-and-a-half years in the RAF and that was it.
‘It was just about getting on with it and doing it. I don’t really think about it now.
‘Being a navigator, I had to work very hard and fast without all the navigational aids like there are nowadays.’