D-Day hero involved in Operation Gambit with COPP 9 has died at 101 years old - Hayling island residents pay their respects
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Jim Booth, an unsung hero in the Second World War, has died at the age of 101 in his Somerset home of Taunton. The 101 year-old led a remarkable life, including playing a role in COPP 9, which saw him, along with four others tasked with shining beacon lights out to sea in the early hours of D-Day, on June 6, 1944, to help the army of landing craft ashore. The team had to sit for 48 hours inside a tiny X-Craft during this and they played an instrumental part in Operation Gambit.
Jim was mentioned in dispatches and he was then later awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government for his bravery on D-Day.
After a short stint in the Mediterranean, COPP 9 were sent from the depot Hayling Island SC to Sri Lanka, leaving their forward base at Hammenhiel Fort on Christmas Day 1944, for Burma‘s Akyab.
Jim visited Hayling Island many times and helped in establishing the Hayling COPP Heroes Memorial. At its unveiling he spoke of his experiences as a young man at war. He met Robin Walton and the now King Charles to discuss the plans for the memorial, which commemorates the men in the COPP team and their work.
Andrew Griffin, a member of Hayling COPP Heroes Memorial, said: ‘He was full of life and since the last time I saw him, I have managed to delve into history more and find out things I never had a chance to talk to him about.
‘I asked him how he managed to do the things he was doing and get through them and he said ‘Andy we were just young lads, when we were sat at the bottom we were trying to use as little oxygen as possible. We just sat there, we played a few board games and card games and we talked about things that young boys talked about: girls, football.’ He said they talked about going to the pub when they got back and how they never really thought of the bad things that could happen.’
Jim had an extraordinary life and had a family alongside his career successes, while also having the opportunity to meet King Charles and Camilla at a party in Somerset.
He carried his strength and bravery with him throughout, and the team at the Hayling COPP Heroes Memorial are deeply saddened by the loss.
Andrew added: ‘Everyone in the team who has worked to build and maintain Hayling‘s seafront memorial is saddened by Jim‘s death, and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.’
Jim was attacked in his own home in November 2017 by a man pretending to be a builder. His attacker Joseph Isaacs was later found guilty of attempted murder. Mr Booth was left with multiple depressed skull fractures and cuts lacerations to his head, hands and arms. Afterwards, despite the brutal attack, he played down his ordeal, saying: ‘Yes, well, worse things happen at sea as they say, in war.’