An honour fit for a hero

Alan King is to receive the Legion D'Honneur award, the highest award given to D-Day veterans in France. ANL-150411-202730009

Alan King is to receive the Legion D'Honneur award, the highest award given to D-Day veterans in France. ANL-150411-202730009

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A proud north Suffolk Second World War veteran of the D-Day landings is to receive France’s top honour for his service during the conflict at a ceremony in London.

Alan King, 91, of Thornham Parva, will be officially awarded the Legion D’Honneur by French Ambassador Sylvie Bermann at a ceremony on November 11, accompanied by daughters Joyce and Christine, and son Raymond.

I lost my best friend and many comrades during the Battle for Normandy

Alan King

Mr King, who served as a wireless operator in the East Riding Yeomanry, a tank regiment, and fought battles in Holland, Belgium and Germany, said Remembrance Day has become more poignant as every year passes.

“I have been going over to France for some years now and they are always very, very grateful,” he said.

“There are a lot of graves over there of young boys.”

Daughter Joyce, standard bearer of the Stradbroke and District Branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “It is about time they were recognised.

“I am humbled by the modesty of all of the veterans. The general public do not realise what they went through. It took them 50 years to be able to talk about it.

“The veterans did not have a choice, they were called up. Whether they wanted to or not was besides the point.

“It should never be forgotten, veterans old and young.”

In the application statement for the award, Mr King recalled his D-Day experience: “I came ashore on Sword beach shortly after 7am on June 6, 1944. I was a wireless operator in a Sherman tank.

“For the Normandy Landings, the East Riding Yeomanry, Royal Armoured Corps was part of 27 Armoured Brigade.

“After landing we were deployed in numerous attacks aimed at containing German panzer units. We moved on to liberate the area around Cambes-en-Plein, and from there we fought in Operation Charnwood on the northern outskirts of Caen.

“On 18th July we took part in Operation Goodwood, where many of our men and tanks were lost.

“Following this battle those of us left were sent to Le Havre to attack the German gun batteries. I lost my best friend and many comrades during the Battle of Normandy.”

Officially titled ‘Chevalier Ordre national de la legion d’honneur’, it was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.

n Remembrance events are taking place all around the Diss Express area later this month — find out what is happening near you on page 3