A D-DAY veteran from Stratford has been officially thanked by the French government.
Norman Kelloway was presented with the Legion of Honour medal by French Consul Robert Mille at Stratford Town Hall this week.
The ‘Legion D’honneur’ is the highest French order for military efforts and was awarded to the Stratfordian for his efforts during the Second World War.
Norman, now 94 years-old, remembers being on a merchant vessel with 100 other men before D-Day on their way to Arromanches in Normandy, although none of them knew where they were heading until they actually got there.
Norman said: “I have a great problem in recalling the day.
“Even to this day I’m not sure what day we went up the beach, we lost track of time. I think it was day two or three so all of the serious fighting had past but we saw all the debris. I remember all the dead.
” I couldn’t swim, and had to come onto the beach with a Bren gun held over my head, up to my chest in water.
His unit had been trained to use anti-aircraft guns on German planes but by the time they made it to Europe the German airforce was depleted.
He was sent back to England for intensive military training before being stationed in Holland. It was there that Norman saw someone he knew from his home town of Bournemouth.
He said: “The sad thing is somebody – I can’t give a name to, but knew by face – was by my side of me. He asked ‘what you doing here?’
“Our aim was to take this Dutch field and then he was gone. Whether he was shot I simply don’t know but I never saw him again.
“I never knew his name, he was just someone who lived nearby.”
After peace was declared Norman was sent to Germany to guard Hitler’s former deputy Rudolf Hess in Spandau Prison.