An Eastbourne veteran of the Second World War has been awarded a special medal by the French government which recognises his part in the Normandy landings.
John William Haydon was only 20 years old when he landed on Gold Beach in 1944 as part the Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
During his time in France, John was responsible for keeping the lines of communication open by removing and repairing broken and damaged equipment. This continued as his unit moved forward towards Germany.
A superior officer described him as “a storeman of high capabilities and integrity who has performed his various duties in unit accountancy with a most willing manner and high standard of work”.
At the end of hostilities in Europe, John was transferred to Asia where he spent the remainder of his military service in both India and Japan.
He was discharged from the armed forces on February 13, 1947.
Earlier this year, John and other veterans of the Normandy campaign were awarded France’s top military medal – the Legion D’Honneur.
John was presented with the medal by French Consul Capt Francois Jean at a special ceremony attended by family, friends and Eastbourne’s Mayor Cllr Janet Coles.
Despite his long military service, his family had remained largely in the dark about his time in France.
He only mentioned his role in the D-Day landings while watching the 70th Anniversary commemorations with his family in June 2014.
After hearing about his service, John’s daughter Tricia and son-in-law Robin took John to visit Arromanches where, 70 years after he first walked on Gold Beach, he was able to do so again.
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