French honour for Sutton Bridge veteran
A D-Day veteran has received one of the highest French medals in recognition for helping to liberate the country during the Second World War.
Jack Wilkinson, 91, 0f Sutton Bridge, was among the 156,000 Allied troops who braved Nazi bullets and stormed the Normandy beaches as part of the invasion fleet on June 6, 1944.
Mr Wilkinson, who went on to serve across Europe, has now been honoured with a French medal, Chevalier in the Ordre National de la Legion d’honneur.
He said: “I am one of the very lucky ones. I did not have a bullet with my name on it that day.
“This new medal will go with my others. I am very proud of it. I feel humble to receive this.”
Mr Wilkinson joined the Army in 1943 and after initial training spent months getting ready for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Nazi-held Europe. He said: “I landed in France at 7.20am on June 6.
“We had to jump out of the boats and into four-foot deep of water, holding our weapons over our heads. The sea was turning red. It was just pot luck.”
After surviving D-Day, in which 4,413 men died, Mr Wilkinson’s job was to guard Bridgehead for a month.
His unit, the 5th beach group, was disbanded after Allied forces landed in France. Mr Wilkinson ended up in the South Lancashire Regiment.
Widower Mr Wilkinson fought the whole campaign through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany before finally helping to take the port of Bremen a few days before the end of the war.
He applied for the medal 18 months ago after the French government made an announcement.