Second World War hero who trained with elite Hayling Island unit ‘viciously’ attacked in his own home

Jim Booth lays a wreath on The Copp Memorial on Hayling Island in 2015 

Picture: Malcolm Wells (150701-4775)
Jim Booth lays a wreath on The Copp Memorial on Hayling Island in 2015 Picture: Malcolm Wells (150701-4775)
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A SECOND World War hero has been bludgeoned in his own home in what police say is a suspected distraction burglary.

Jim Booth, a 96-year-old D-Day veteran who did his elite training on Hayling Island, has been left with life-threatening injuries made by a claw hammer.

Mr Booth lives in Taunton and was visited by a cold-caller who asked if he needed any work doing to his home – and when he refused, he was viciously attacked.

After neighbours phoned an ambulance, Mr Booth was taken to hospital.

Avon and Somerset Police are not yet clear if anything has been stolen from the house.

Talking to the BBC, Det Ch Insp James Riccio said: ‘It’s hard to imagine how anyone could attack a 96-year-old man in his own home, and I believe there will be people who have knowledge about who was responsible.

‘This was a vicious and sickening attack, and we’ve launched a full-scale investigation to find the person who did it.

‘Offences of this magnitude are rare but I’d like to assure residents that we’re using all necessary resources to investigate this crime.’

Mr Booth is a Combined Operations Pilotage Parties (Copp) hero.

The top-secret Copp depot was set up in 1943 on Hayling Island under the instruction of Lord Mountbatten.

Small teams of sailors and soldiers trained as frogmen and canoeists for covert beach reconnaissance and other essential clandestine operations prior to the Allied landings on enemy occupied territory throughout the world – Mr Booth is one of the last surviving Copp heroes.

The attacker was white, in his mid-30s, clean-shaven, with dark hair and an athletic build.

He was wearing dark clothing and jeans when he attacked Mr Booth, who in 2015 was awarded with the Croix de Guerre, a military decoration of France, by the French for his outstanding bravery.

Days before the D-Day landings Mr Booth spent long hours at the bottom of the sea off Normandy in a submarine so small he could not stand up in it.

A memorial for the wartime Copp heroes is on the seafront at Hayling.