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Veterans rewarded for their bravery
Six men who fought through the Normandy landings 70 years ago have seen their bravery rewarded at a medal ceremony held in Poole.
Aged between 86 and 99, these veterans of Operation Overlord have been presented with French commemoration medals in thanks for their part in the D-Day landings and the liberation of France and Europe.
“I haven’t thought anything about it for 70 years and now all this is going on,” said Donald Hogg, 92, from Poole who served in the Royal Navy and had a ringside seat of the action from the deck of the light cruiser Arethusa.
“We started the bombardment at 5am,” he recalled. His job at action stations was to keep the guns supplied with four-inch shells. “I was on an open deck and I had a complete view of the landing craft going in, also the parachutists and gliders. The sea was black with ships.”
He added: “I felt it was such an overwhelming force I don’t think people felt fear at all. You just felt this was going to lead to the end,” said the sailor, who also served on the Arctic Convoys for which he received the Arctic Star.
They were presented with their medals by Poole Mayor, Cllr Peter Adams, at a ceremony held at Poole Civic Centre.
“I congratulate those who have medals. I am sure they are very, very richly deserved,” he said.
Recipient Reginald Burbidge served in the Royal Artillery and landed on June 29; George Heaton served in the RAF, was shot down two days before D-Day and was sheltered by a French Resistance family in Caen.
Dr Andrew Henderson served in the RAF, landed on D-Day and set up radar in Normandy; Peter Oliver served in the Merchant Navy clearing the Omaha and Utah beaches and Tom Simpkin was in the Royal Engineers, landing on Sword beach on D-Day.
Some also received a Utah beach commemorative medal and the Freedom of Sainte Marie du Mont.
Around a dozen other local veterans received their medals at the 70th anniversary commemorations last month in France.