A Second World War veteran from Bourne who took part in the D-Day landings just over 70 years ago has France’s highest national honour.
Samuel Todd (92), originally from Holbeach, is now a Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur (Knight to the French Legion of Honour) for his exploits as a Lance Corporal in the Royal Marine Commandos during World War II.
It’s a thank you medal for my service during the war and I’ve had to put a few of my friends’ minds at rest by telling them ‘I’m not a SirSamuel Todd (92)
Mr Todd, who has three children, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, was only 21 when the famous Normandy landings (codenamed Operation Overlord) took place on June 6 1944 with the aim of liberating Western Europe from occupation by Nazi Germany.
“We had an objective to go through with which meant that we left the beaches (of Normandy) almost as soon as we landed,” Mr Todd said.
“You had to be fit for this job because there was then a 12-mile walk to our digs on a hill overlooking Normandy which we attacked the morning after we landed.
“Every man had to carry a three-inch mortar bomb at the bottom of his gear, but all the heavy weapons we had were destroyed on the beach.”
Twice wounded during World War II, Mr Todd also fought to free the Belgian prt of Antwerp between September and November 1944 when more than 12,000 Allied troops were either killed, wounded or lost in action - presumed dead.
Mr Todd said: “I joined the Marines in October 1941 before the battalion I was in got disbanded and we were given the option of where to go.”
“They were forming the Royal Marine Commandos in 1943 so I went for that and went on a Commando course where a lot of the training was on the west coast of Scotland.
“We landed in Normandy on June 6 ,1944 when I was 21, with quite a few of the men being younger than me.
“The crafts we landed on got holed up with water after the soldiers from Nazi Germany had put barricades in the water that hit the crafts and caused them to sink right to the bottom of the English Channel.”
About 2,700 British troops were among the 10,000 Allied soldiers who died during the operation and Mr Todd went on to help free the Belgian port of Antwerp between September and November 1944 when more than 12,000 Allied troops were either killed, wounded or lost in action – presumed dead.
Mr Todd said: “I’m very proud to have got the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur, although it’s not what I’d call a gallantry medal because they are issued individually and very few people got those.
“It’s a thank you medal for my service during the war and I’ve had to put a few of my friends’ minds at rest by telling them ‘I’m not a Sir.’”
Mr Todd’s daughter, Anne Fensom of Thurlby, said: “Little has been made of the medal in England because people have to apply for it from the Ministry of Defence in London. But dad was very lucky to have come back from the war and it’s amazing how his experiences there have helped him through life and towards him being the person he is now.”