Hon­our for vet­eran who fought aged 16

Macclesfield Express - - NOSTALGIA - STU­ART GREER

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

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