French battleship docked at Haifa to honour D-Day veteran
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”