Basil is fi­nally recog­nised — it only took 68 years

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY JES­SICA ELGOT

AN 89-YEAR-OLD for­mer Bri­tish naval of­fi­cer is to re­ceive France’s high­est mil­i­tary hon­our — 68 years af­ter his part in the Nor­mandy D-day land­ings.

Basil Woolf jok­ingly de­scribed the award as “bet­ter late than never” but added he was “thrilled and very sur­prised” to be given the Lé­gion d’hon­neur.

Born in Hack­ney, Mr Woolf vol­un­teered for the Royal Navy in 1940, and was posted to Amer­ica and Europe, where, as a naval com­mando, he “took sup­plies to Malta, smug­gled Greek women guer­ril­las into Crete, and took part in the Si­cily and Italy land­ings.”

Petty Of­fi­cer Woolf then be­came part of the Sup­port Squadron East­ern Flank, to pro­tect in­fantry in the Bri­tish sec­tion of the Nor­mandy in­va­sion dur­ing 1944.

He de­scribed an at­tack on Walcheren Is­land, off the Nor­mandy coast, which of­fi­cers be­lieved was be­ing used by the Nazis to launch rocket at­tacks on Lon- don. His ship was the only craft to sur­vive the of­fen­sive. “I saw land­ing craft burn­ing and sink­ing all around. The sea was on fire. Men were in the water, some mo­tion­less, some at­tempt­ing to swim. Our ship was pick­ing men out of the water, the well deck was full of in­jured sailors.”

Hi s b r a v e r y was men­tioned in dis­patches — re­ported in the JC in 1944.

Mr Woolf, a re­tired an­tique dealer, and his wife Anne, moved to New Jer­sey in 1952 and now live in Dunedin, Florida. “The job sit­u­a­tion was not good in Europe and our fam­ily en­cour­aged us to move here. We’re now US cit­i­zens but we still feel Bri­tish.” He re­sponded to a lo­cal news­pa­per ad­vert in 2000 ask­ing for de­tails of ex­sol­diers who served in Nor­mandy. “I re­ceived a certificate from the French con­sulate but I was so sur­prised to get the award, 12 years af­ter I sent them the de­tails.” Mr Woolf was the only Bri­ton to re­ceive the award in Florida. It will be pre­sented in May.

‘It’s not just their wine that’s vin­tage...’

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