Normandy veteran from Harleston receives France’s greatest honour

Gilbert Clarke, of Harleston (second from left), receives the Legion DHonneur, saluted by Jimmy Keywood (far left), Kenny Remblance (second from right) and Jack Ling. Photo by Ian Carstairs.
Gilbert Clarke, of Harleston (second from left), receives the Legion DHonneur, saluted by Jimmy Keywood (far left), Kenny Remblance (second from right) and Jack Ling. Photo by Ian Carstairs.

A south Norfolk man said he felt emotional as he was given France’s highest honour at the weekend, more than 70 years on from his involvement in perhaps the world’s greatest global conflict.

Gilbert Clarke, aged 92, a resident of Harleston, was presented with the Legion d’Honneur medal on Saturday, joining an exclusive group of Second World War veterans in the Diss Express area who have recently received this top recognition for their services.

Formerly a member of the Mechanical Engineers Platoon 77, Mr Clarke landed on Sword Beach on D-Day +3, driving a semi-armoured D7 bulldozer off the barge and on to the shore.

“ I almost cried when I opened the medal case ... it has been such a long time”, said Mr Clarke, who lives in Wilderness Lane.

After the presentation, Mr Clarke was saluted by Jimmy Keywood, chairman of the Harleston and District Royal British Legion branch, as well as Kenny Remblance and Jack Ling, representing the Norfolk Army Cadet Corps (Harleston), who described the recognition as ‘inspired’.

Mr Keywood said: “We are all honoured to be in the presence of a real Normandy Veteran.”

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