Published: May 26, 2008
Mayor backs calls for knighthood for Highbridge war hero Frank Foley

The Mayor and Mayoress of Highbridge besides the Frank Foley statue

The Mayor and Mayoress of Highbridge have this week backed a group of MPs who are calling for war hero Frank Foley to be awarded a posthumous knighthood.

A group of 30 MPs is pushing the Government to change the rules governing the honours system so Highbridge-born Major Foley can be recognised for his humanitarian work in saving the lives of thousands of Jews from Nazi Germany, 50 years after his death.

Frank FoleyIt was only after the death of Major Foley - who has a commemorative statue outside Highbridge Community Hall - that his story emerged.

Not only had he been one of Britain's most senior spies, but he used his job at the British Embassy in Berlin to issue visas to Jews fleeing Nazi persecution and secured the release of Jews from internment camps and hid fugitives in his own home, putting his life at risk.

The 30 MPs have called for formal recognition of Major Foley's bravery and have signed a Commons motion calling for the honours system to be changed so he can receive a posthumous knighthood since he received no official recognition in his lifetime.

The calls have the local backing of Peter Clayton, Burnham and Highbridge Mayor, and Mayoress Jo Burridge who are pictured above next to the commemorative statue.

Peter told on Sunday (May 25th): "Without a doubt, Frank Foley deserves national recognition for his efforts during the Second World War."

"He saved approximately 10,000 Jewish people which sometimes involved entering concentration camps and also sheltering them from the Nazis in his own home."

"I am aware that he was recognised as 'righteous amongst the nations' at Yad Vashem, but he has not received formal recognition in the UK. I am pleased that MP Lynda Waltho's early day motion has received cross-party support and she does outline that just as soldiers can receive posthumous awards, so too should civilians."

"It was the case that the insignia of a knighthood goes back to the Crown on death and I am unsure if this has changed, but in the event that this attempt of recognition is unsuccessful, I hope Frank will receive an award of some description and he is honoured appropriately. It is true to say that Frank Foley represented a glimmer of humanity during one of history's darkest moments."

The Holocaust Educational Trust, a British charity that aims to educate young people about the Holocaust, has launched an online petition on the Downing Street website here.

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