A VETERAN awarded the Légion d’honneur award for his services during D-Day says he will 'never forget friends lost during the dark days'.

Dennis Roy Cooper, 102, was this month awarded the medal at Blandford Camp during a ceremony organised by armed force charity SSAFA.

Mr Cooper enlisted into the Royal Navy on October 29 1940 from his hometown of Portsmouth. He served three years on HMS King George V and then on minesweepers.

In 1944, he escorted the two mulberry harbours to Normandy, where they were positioned on Sword and Omaha beaches.

He then worked in mine sweeping from Sword Beach to Cherbourg off the Cotentin peninsula.

Mr Cooper was also engaged in the Mediterranean during the invasion of Italy.

He left the Navy at the end of the war and began a career in the motor industry, eventually retiring to Marnhull in North Dorset, where he has lived for 32 years with his wife Mary, a retired headmistress.

He said: “It was initially a bit of a surprise when I found out about the award, but the job we did was very important and incredibly risky.

"We are all here today because of the sacrifices made in those dark days.

"I lost many friends who I will never forget. It is important that these events are never forgotten.”

Admiral The Lord West of Spithead, a former First Sea Lord, the Lord Lieutenant for Dorset Mr Angus Campbell and SSAFA representatives were among those to attend the ceremony. Mr Cooper's medal was presented by Colonel Franco of the French Army.

SSAFA supported Mr Cooper when he needed help caring for his wife, and with the development of his garden.

Mr Cooper has previously been awarded the following medals:

• 1939-1945 Star

• Africa Star

• Italy Star

• France and Germany Star with Atlantic Bar

• Defence Medal

• Victory Medal