War veteran Harry Brown was presented with the Legion d’Honneur medal by Sir Henry Bellingham on Tuesday at Hunstanton Day Centre.
Harry served from April 1942 in the Navy during the war years aboard Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB’s) used mainly for mine sweeping, enemy coastal and U Boat attacks and as escorts for larger vessels.
Aboard HMS Aggressive and sailing from Falmouth under orders dated 5 th June 1944, the MTB was acting as a minesweeper and escort to a troopship full of USA servicemen and equipment for the D-Day landings.
Harry said: “There were at least two Divisions of American troops waiting to go, one was the 29 th Infantry.
“We sailed for France and moored off Omaha, the most terrible of the Beachheads that suffered the most American casualties; it’s too awful to remember.”
Harry and his crew’s job was to remove the casualties from the water and get them to the hospital ships further back. Harry described the sea as being ‘red with blood’.
Their work off Omaha lasted about a week.
Presenting the medal Sir Henry, MP for North West Norfolk, said: “At Omaha Beach Harry saved lives and helped win the war, and it is an honour for me to present him with this beautiful medal today.”
In a letter from the French Embassy, Sylvie Bermann wrote: “As we contemplate this Europe of peace, we must never forget heroes like you, who came from Britain and the Commonwealth to begin the liberation of Europe by liberating France.
“We owe our freedom and security to your dedication, because you were ready to risk your life.”
Adding their congratulations were borough mayor David Whitby, deputy mayor Carol Bower and Hunstanton mayor James Johnson.
The Royal British Legion president Roy Evans addressed the audience.
Attending the event were Year 11 students from Hunstanton Primary School and Smithdon High School, who are studying World War II in history lessons..
Following the formal part of the day, Barbara Wingrove accompanied a war sing-a-long before tea and cake was served.