Sgt Robert Rigler, 98 years old, is an Arnhem's British hero, who has received Legion d’Honneur for his brave part in the daring mission to evacuate besieged British troops from the Dutch town of Arnhem in September 1944. As well as a mention in despatches, Sgt Rigler was awarded the Dutch Order of the Lion Bronze Cross for his gallantry at the Battle of Arnhem.
Sgt Robert Rigler who served with the 5th Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment in France after D-day, took charge of a rescue boat sent across the Lek river to save the men. Under heavy machine gun fire he directed the boat across the river and back twice. He saved the lives of 20 soldiers. During Operation Market Garden, more than 2,400 soldiers from the 1st British Airborne Division were surrounded by German troops.
Operation Market Garden was fought in the Netherlands and Germany in the World War II, between 17 and 25 September 1944. It was an unsuccessful Allied military operation and the largest airborne operation up to that time.
Sgt Rigler joined the army in 1933 aged 16 and joined 5th Battalion on the outbreak of war in 1939. He is the latest war veteran to be given the Legion d’Honneur as part of a commitment by France to recognise the bravery of British soldiers who helped liberate the country from the Nazis, Mirror Online, reports.
Legion d'Honneur citation
“Owing to the number of casualties suffered by the Royal Engineers who were manning the assault boats bringing the airborne troops over the River Lek, Sgt Rigler and some of his men were called upon to man the boats.
“The night was pitch dark and it was pouring with rain making the crossing most difficult. In addition the crossing places were under heavy artillery and small arms fire.
“Undeterred Sgt Rigler took charge of a boat and it was his skill and courage in directing the efforts of the crew that the crossing was successfully accomplished and ten airborne men were brought back safely to the home bank.
“On reaching the home side Sgt Rigler found that the boat had been holed by the fire and was in doubtful condition.
“Nothing daunted he quickly got his party into another boat and made the crossing again, once more successfully bringing back another ten men.
“It was entirely due to Sgt Rigler’s example, leadership and disregard for his own personal safety that these trips across the Lek were successfully carried out."