Navy veteran Harold Thain from Ongar to receive French Legion of Honour

Harold Thain with wife Patti Lynn and a picture of HMS Vidette, which he served on for D-Day

Harold Thain with wife Patti Lynn and a picture of HMS Vidette, which he served on for D-Day

First published in News
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East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A navy veteran is set to receive a French Legion of Honour medal for his role on D-Day.

Harold Thain, 90, of Stondon Road, Ongar, served during the operation as an able seaman on HMS Vidette, a destroyer which led the charge to clear the channel of U-Boats.

President Francois Hollande announced the award to mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings in June 1944.

La Legion d’honneur was established by Napoleon in 1802 as France’s highest award for “excellence in civil or military conduct”.

Mr Thain said: “I am delighted that the French have decided to do this. It will not just be for me but for all of my colleagues who have not survived this long.”

“I was one of six ­radar ­operators on the ship and I am the only one left, so it is a shame something like this did not happen sooner.

"We were one of the first to get to the channel because we were clearing the area of U-Boats and looking back I am proud to have taken part in such a historic event."

Mr Thain lives with his wife Patti Lynn, 70, who had a hit record in 1962 with ‘Johnny Angel’.

She said: “I am very pleased for him, but it would have been nice if it could have come earlier because he is the only one surviving from that crew.

“The recognition from France is really appreciated though and I am proud of Harold, the weird thing is I was born that very year.”

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