Holocaust survivor and Army veteran receives surprise war medals on 100th birthday

Henny Franks fled Nazi persecution in Cologne, western Germany, on the kindertransport as a teenager


A Holocaust survivor, who served in the British Army during World War II, has received long overdue war medals to mark her 100th birthday.

Henny Franks, who escaped the Nazis on the Kindertransport to England when she was 15, joined the women’s branch of the army when she was 19, volunteering for the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). She went to Nottingham for training and then worked as a truck driver, transporting ammunition in Westcliff-on-Sea.

During Wednesday’s celebrations, Henny was presented with the Defence Medal and the War Medal 1939-45, together with the HM Armed Forces Veteran Badge.

Afterwards, she said she had been “overcome with joy” to receive the medals she hadn’t realised she had been entitled to, adding: “I felt so proud and am still proud I've been in the army. I've done my bit and I want people to know that Jewish people did their bit to fight back.” 

AJEX The Jewish Military Association national chair Dan Fox, who presented Henny with her medals, said: “It was an honour to surprise Henny today. As the ‘Greatest Generation’ become fewer, lasting recognition of their service and commitment is more important than ever. The restoration and reclamation of medals is a striking way of ensuring this.”

The medals presentation was part of a wider AJEX Medals Campaign, which unites Jewish war veterans and their descendants with medals they never received or lost. “[The medals] are artefacts or personal history, but also meaningful to families, communities and the nation. They help us remember what veterans went through and to take pride in what they did”, said Fox.

He added that AJEX would help veterans and their families identify which medals they were entitled to.

The presentation took place at Jewish care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre in Golders Green. Jewish Care CEO Daniel Carmel-Brown said: “It is an amazing gift and the source of much pride for Henny, as a Holocaust survivor and veteran, to be recognised for her service and receive her war medals through AJEX.”

He added that he was “so pleased to wish Henny a happy 100th birthday and to celebrate together with her at Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre, which she tells us she considers her second home.”

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