Meet the war hero who kept Warwick marching
A 95-year-old war veteran who served as Warwick's Remembrance Sunday Parade Marshall for 43 years has received special recognition for his services to his county and country.
Following the Remembrance Service and Parade on Sunday a special presentation from the Royal British Legion and the Warwick Mayor Christine Cross was made to war veteran Bryan Johnson.
Mr Johnson, who has lived in Leamington since the 1950s, joined the army in 1941 as part of the Royal Armed Corp and then went on to serve in the 5th Royal Tank Regiment and took part in the landing on the Normandy beaches on D-Day.
After returning from the war Mr Johnson joined the Warwickshire and Worcestershire Yeomanry and then went on to help create the yeomanry museum, which is housed in the basement of the Court House in Warwick.
He then ran the museum on his own as the curator for 30 years.
Mr Johnson decided to hand the baton of Parade Marshall on this year.
He said: “I was interested in the role of Parade Marshall and I thought that I ought to do it and I enjoyed for the most part. It was quite a responsibility and I will miss it.”
He was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1980 as part of the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List that year.
During his service Mr Johnson was the commander of the first tank which went into the town of Bethune in France, which signified the start of the liberation.
He said: “I was in one of the two tanks that went to the town to see if there were any Germans there and all these crowds appeared and it was just fantastic then and it was like a carnival with everyone cheering.
“It was the start of their liberation.”
For his bravery and service Mr Johnson has also been presented with the Légion d’honneur medal from the French Government and over the years he has been the principal guest at Bethune when the town celebrates their liberation.
The veteran’s bravery was brought to the attention of the Warwick branch of the Royal British Legion by Warwick Town Council through the yeomanry museum.
At the event on Sunday, Mr Johnson was presented with a special Somme 1916 Poppy Lapel Pin in appreciation for his services and dedication to his country and his town.
The limited-edition pin is made from recycled artillery shell fuses recovered from the Somme battlefield and the painted centre of the poppy is made with paint mixed with earth from the battlefield itself.