British D-Day hero awarded highest French honour

Ninety-five-year-old Harry Johnson joined the military when he was 17-years-old (Image: Royal Navy).

 

A 95-year-old Royal Navy veteran has been awarded France's highest order of merit for his service during the Second World War.

Harry Johnson, 95, was presented with the insignia of Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur on Tuesday, 21 August at HM Naval Base Clyde. 

Mr Johnson was presented with his medal by Emmanuel Cocher of the French Consul General on behalf of the President of France, which was witnessed by his family and friends.

The French government are recognising the sacrifice of British service personnel who served during the D-Day operations, with 5,000 medals have being presented across the UK.

Mr Johnson joined the Navy aged 17 - his first deployment was on HMS Enterprise.

HMS Enterprise fired over 9,000 shells during the landings and the bombardment of Cherbourg and had to retire briefly to Chatham Dockyard to have her worn out gun barrels replaced and to refuel.

Both the Captain and the First Lieutenant were wounded in the action whilst on the Ship’s bridge.

He spoke of his experience: “I remember waking at dawn on D-Day and going on deck to find the sea completely covered with ships and crafts of every conceivable shape, size and purpose, far as far as the eye could see and mostly heading for the beaches.

"Enterprise was allocated to 'Utah' beach in the American Sector and her first task was to soften up the beach defences and then to lay down fire ahead of the Allied advance.

“It is an honour to be presented with this award, however, I also think of all those who died during and since the war and feel that many of them deserve this far more than I do."

Harry left the Navy as a Commander in 1971, joining the Royal Naval Engineering Service, a MoD Civilian organisation in support of the Navy. Now living in Helensburgh, Harry spent ten years HM Naval Base Clyde, where he finished his career, retiring in 1982 as Chief Services Engineer at Faslane.

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