JOINER’S apprentice turned demolitions man Ronald Cross has been handed a top military honour.
Ronald Cross MBE has been awarded the Legion d’honneur – the highest military honour which can be given by France – for his part in on D-Day.
The 96-year-old, from Gosport, joined the Royal Engineers in August 1940 as part of the 79th Armoured Division and later landed at H-Hour on D-Day.
As a demolitions NCO assigned to a Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers Churchill tank it was his job to blow up anything in the way to make gaps for tanks.
Ron said: ‘I still remember it very clearly but definitely wouldn’t want to do it all again.
‘The infantry had already landed by the time we arrived and we landed with the Regina Rifles from Canada.
This medal is not just for me, but for all the chaps who didn’t make it backVeteran Ronald Cross, 96
‘I was a demolition NCO and if things needed to be blown away it was my job to get out and do it.
‘We were successful and, by 09am, we hoisted a blue windsock which indicated that a gap was open for the next group to come in.’
He took part in three further landings in Holland and was mentioned in dispatches.
Ron, who was discharged as a corporal in 1946, worked as an occupational therapist at Royal Hospital Haslar for 37 years and developed the department. He was given the MBE for this work.
He was presented the honour by French Consul Captain Francois Jean in a ceremony on Wednesday at the Blind Veterans UK Portsmouth reunion lunch held at the Royal Naval Club and Royal Albert Yacht Club.
Ron, who was a joiner’s apprentice aged 14, added: ‘I’m very proud to have received this medal and hugely grateful to Blind Veterans UK for arranging the presentation.
‘It’s a great honour that we’re still remembered by the French government
‘This medal is not just for me, but for all the chaps who didn’t make it back.’
Ron’s vision deteoriated in 2009 and was later diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration. The charity has helped him since 2012.