French bat­tle­ship docked at Haifa to hon­our D-Day vet­eran

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY NATHAN JEF­FAY

RENE KARAT has be­come the hero of Her­zliya. The British D-Day vet­eran is one of the lat­est re­cip­i­ents of France’s Lé­gion d’hon­neur.

The medal, pre­sented on a French bat­tle­ship that docked at Haifa for the oc­ca­sion, now sits in his bed­side drawer at the Beth Protea re­tire­ment home in Her­zliya, and will soon get its first out­ing. “I shall wear it as part of my out­fit for Purim,” he said with char­ac­ter­is­tic hu­mour this week.

He has high spir­its now, but Mr Karat, 97, came very close to mak­ing the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice dur­ing the war. He was in Nor­mandy on June 6, 1944 and fought in sev­eral places un­til late June, when a bul­let went through the side of his head. “They came to bury me three days later and found I was still warm so they sent me back to Eng­land,” he said.

He re­turned home need­ing surgery. He had been a med­i­cal stu­dent but even af­ter his long re­cov­ery he was “stone deaf on the left side” and could not con­tinue his stud­ies be­cause “the stetho­scope was use­less to me.”

How­ever, this did not hold him back. He went into den­tistry in­stead and ran a Har­ley Street prac­tice for 37 years.

Mr Karat made aliyah in 1985 and filled in an ap­pli­ca­tion for the Lé­gion d’hon­neur in 2015, a year af­ter the French de­cided to give the award to British D-Day vet­er­ans. The cer­e­mony took place in July.

There were French diplo­mats and mil­i­tary at­tachés of var­i­ous em­bassies on board the ship, as well as the crew. The cap­tain pre­sented him with the medal, laud­ing, “your com­mit­ment and your brav­ery for your ac­tions on D-Day and the fol­low­ing days.” How did Mr Karat feel re­ceiv­ing the hon­our? He an­swers with a smile: “I thought it was about bloody time. When I filled out my ap­pli­ca­tion I was 96 and said I would be very grate­ful to get it in my life­time rather than posthu­mously.” Be­com­ing more se­ri­ous, he said: “There aren’t very many peo­ple in Israel who have the hon­our, and very few peo­ple sur­vived un­til now from D-Day. I t a great ho n o u r , and they tr e a t e d me with g r e a t re s p e c t o n th e ship.”

Karat: “About bloody time”

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