70 years later, Hal is awarded top French gong
MORE than 70 years after the liberation of France, Bellingen's Hal Hobson has been awarded France's highest decoration for his service in the Second World War.
Consul-General of France Eric Berti awarded Mr Hobson the rank of chevalier in the Legion d'Honneur (Legion of Honour) on June 16.
Hal said the award was a "bittersweet" honour he accepted in recognition of those who didn't make it home.
"I am very proud to wear the Legion of Honour medal," Mr Hobson said.
"I can't help thinking there are a lot of fellows who did more than I did, but they're not here to receive the award - I was one of the very fortunate ones."
Aged 18, Hal enlisted with the Royal Australian Air Force and trained in Canada where he earned his wings.
He joined 464 Squadron and flew bombing raids over Germany in a Mosquito aircraft from a base in England.
The squadron later moved to France where it was used to interdict German transports and infrastructure.
Recalling his experiences of the conflict, Hal said the comradery with his fellow servicemen saw him through.
"The mates you had we're probably as important as anything else - you stood by one another," he said.
During his service, Hal also transported prisoners of war to safety in England.
After the war, Hal returned to Australia and later settled in Bellingen where he worked as a bank manager until retirement.
He said the most important thing is never to forget those who can't be honoured in person.
Hal received the Legion of Honour in a ceremony at the French Embassy, supported by his wife Nancy and family.