COURAGEOUS D-Day veterans who dodged Nazi bombs, machine gun fire and deadly snipers have been hailed heroes by the French government.
Six Second World War heroes from across the area were presented with the Legion d’Honneur – France’s highest medal for gallantry – for their actions in liberating the nation in the conflict.
There were blazing tanks on the beach and bodies in the water...D-Day hero Fredick Homard, of Fareham
During the ceremony at Southsea’s D-Day Museum, Consul Honoraire of France, Captain Francois Jean, said: ‘You are true heroes and will be our heroes forever.
‘We French will never forget what you did to restore our freedom.’
Albert Edwards, of Mayfield Road, North End, Portsmouth, served on HMS Bellona during the Second World War.
Speaking of receiving the honour, the 91-year-old said: ‘Today’s been awe-inspiring. I’m very proud and honoured to receive the medal.’
Albert Dyason, of Springwell, Havant, was serving as an electrical artificer on a landing craft during the pivotal 1944 invasion.
The 93-year-old helped transport hundreds of troops on to Gold Beach and said the medal was in honour of those soldiers who never came home.
‘I think about all the hundreds of blokes we took ashore safely and a lot of them didn’t come back. So this is for them,’ said Albert.
Frederick Homard, of Lower Quay, Fareham, was just 18 when he landed on Sword Beach on June 10 – four days after the initial assault.
However, the 90-year-old, who was part of a small naval signal team in the war, said the carnage on the beach is something he will never forget.
‘There were blazing tanks on the beach and bodies in the water,’ said the grandfather of two.
‘Although it was on the Saturday, we were warned when we were landing on the beach to keep our heads down because there were still snipers out.’
The other veterans to receive the medal included Douglas Crabb, of Lee-on-the-Solent, Reginald ‘Tim’ England, of Chichester and Leslie Savill, of Gravesham.