Honour for veteran who fought aged 16
AD-DAY soldier who went to war when he was just 16 has received France’s highest military honour, the Legion d’Honneur.
Roy Bennett signed up to fight for King and Country in 1941, despite being too young.
Two years later, on June 6, 1944, at 7.20am the 18-year-old Royal Marine Commando landed on Juno beach in Normandy.
Thousands of Allied soldiers died during the operation, which eventually led to the liberation of Europe.
Now 90-year-old Roy, from Poynton, has been presented with the Legion d’Honneur for his part in the D-Day landings at a special presentation organised by the Bollington branch of the Royal British Legion.
Speaking of how he came to enlist two years earlier than was legally allowed, to, Roy said: “I was 16 and working in Birmingham and one lunchtime I walked into the local recruiting office.
“The sergeant said ‘Why do you want to be a marine son?’ I replied, ‘Because they are the best Sir’.
“Fortunately for me, they forgot to ask for my birth certificate and I became a Royal Marine.”
Roy’s unit, No. 48 (Royal Marine) Commando was the first Commando unit to land near Saint-Aubinsur-Mer and started the assault on Langrune-surMer, which was liberated after heavy fighting and severe losses.
He said: “The crossing was terrible, the weather was awful and people were being sick everywhere.
“I will never forget the noise on the beach. Many men died at that time, but 72 years later I have received the highest honour the French Govern- ment can give to a soldier.”
After the war Roy, who is originally from Wales, moved to Poynton and worked at Kay Metzeler in Bollington as a bookkeeper. He still lives in the town with his wife Florence.
Roy’s medal was presented to him by the Commanding Officer of Royal Marine Reserves at Hollin Hall Country Park Hotel.
David Thickett, from Bollington RBL, said the branch were keen to ensure that Roy’s medal was presented ‘with due pomp and ceremony’ to reflect the magnitude of the award.
He added: “The Royal British Legion is responsible for providing support to existing and ex-service personnel and their families and are custodians of the Act of Remembrance, for all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the defence of their country.”
Roy Bennett (right) receiving his Legion d’Honneur and as a young man