(Australian Associated Press)
Eric Arthur knows his World War II squadron was one of the lucky ones.
But he’s not too keen to dwell on the past, despite being recognised for his outstanding bravery with France’s highest military honour.
Mr Arthur was one of seven Australian veterans bestowed on Tuesday with the Legion of Honour in light of their service during the liberation of France.
Then aged in his early 20s, he can recall his mosquito squadron dive-bombing within 10 feet of marking targets.
“It was all quite a serious business then, wasn’t it?” he told AAP.
“When you think all of the fellas we had with us and those who didn’t come back, there was a lot of them. They were under different squadrons. In a way, we were lucky.
“But it’s all past history now, isn’t it? It was a long time ago.”
The honours were presented at a ceremony in Adelaide by French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who paid tribute to the ongoing relationship between the two countries.
He noted that France and Australia were fighting together to combat Islamic State in the Middle East and the two nations had reinforced their friendship in other areas.
“Australia has always shown France unfailing support and has always answered the call when France was threatened in its very existence,” Mr Le Drian told reporters through an interpreter.
“It was a very moving moment coming to pay tribute to these seven very brave, very courageous men and it was also a way of attesting the very long-standing relationship between Australia and France.”