Navy veteran, 95, awarded France’s highest honour for D-Day service

Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Navy of veteran Royal Navy sailor Harry Johnson, 95, who has been awarded France's highest order of merit the Legion of Honour for his valuable service during the Second World War during a ceremony at HM Naval Base Clyde. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday August 27, 2018. Mr Johnson is originally from London but lives in Helensburgh and was presented with the honour by Emmanuel Cocher of the French Consul General at HM Naval Base Clyde, where he worked until his retirement in 1982. See PA story HISTORY Honour. Photo credit should read: LPhot Will Haigh/Royal Navy/PA Wire''NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Navy of veteran Royal Navy sailor Harry Johnson, 95, who has been awarded France's highest order of merit the Legion of Honour for his valuable service during the Second World War during a ceremony at HM Naval Base Clyde. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday August 27, 2018. Mr Johnson is originally from London but lives in Helensburgh and was presented with the honour by Emmanuel Cocher of the French Consul General at HM Naval Base Clyde, where he worked until his retirement in 1982. See PA story HISTORY Honour. Photo credit should read: LPhot Will Haigh/Royal Navy/PA Wire''NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
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A 95-year-old Navy veteran has been awarded France’s highest honour for his service during the the D-Day operations.

Harry Johnson was presented with a Legion d’Honneur medal in recognition of his role in the Second World War.

The French government is recognising the role of British service personnel during D-Day and around 5,000 medals have been awarded around the UK.

Mr Johnson is originally from London but lives in Helensburgh and was presented with the honour by Emmanuel Cocher of the French Consul General at HM Naval Base Clyde, where he worked until his retirement in 1982.

He joined the Navy at 17, with his first deployment on HMS Enterprise.

The light cruiser fired more than 9,000 shells during the D-Day landings and the bombardment of Cherbourg, and had to briefly retire to have her worn-out gun barrels replaced.

Mr Johnson said: “I remember waking at dawn on D-Day and going on deck to find the sea completely covered with ships and crafts of every conceivable shape, size and purpose, for as far as the eye could see and mostly heading for the beaches.

“The Enterprise was allocated to Utah beach in the American Sector and her first task was to soften up the beach defences and then to lay down fire ahead of the Allied advance.”

The 95-year-old received the French honour in front of family and friends in a ceremony at Faslane last week.

He said: “It is an honour to be presented with this award, however I also think of all those who died during and since the war and feel that many of them deserve this far more than I do.”

Harry left the Navy as a commander in 1971, joining the Royal Naval Engineering Service. He ended his career at Faslane in 1982 as chief services engineer.

Andy Knox, Command Warrant Officer Submarines at the Naval Base, said: “I was extremely privileged to be part of Commander Harry Johnson’s Legion d’Honneur presentation at HMNB Clyde.

“It was a truly humbling experience for all.”