Old soldier Frank receives France’s top military honour

Frank Dougan received the Legion d'Honneur at a ceremony in Honfleur, Normandy SUS-160509-154652001
Frank Dougan received the Legion d'Honneur at a ceremony in Honfleur, Normandy SUS-160509-154652001

A former soldier who helped to liberate France during the Second World War has received France’s top military honour.

Frank Dougan, 91, of King’s Road, Horsham, was presented with the Legion d’Honneur at a special ceremony in Honfleur, Normandy, last week.

Frank was working as a delivery boy for a butchers’ shop - and was in the Home Guard - when he was called up and joined the Army in 1943.

He joined the 12th Devonshire Regiment and carried out his basic training at a camp in Wiltshire and went on to train as a gunner.

At the Normandy invasion, Frank sailed with the Landing Craft Infantry. “I got wet going ashore,” recalled Frank. “We should have taken our boots off as they became very heavy when waterlogged.”

His first major action was at Breville when the company commander was killed by a shell while standing just opposite from Frank.

Later Frank’s regiment moved along the Normandy coast and arrived at Honfleur where they were the first platoon to check if the area was clear of Germans.

In December 1944 Frank was sent to Ardennes where he had another close shave when a sniper fired at him. “I felt the bullet passing close by my face,” said Frank.

He completed his service in Hamburg as a military policeman.

After the war he married Joan and worked as a London bus inspector. The couple went on to have two children. Joan died in 2008 after 63 years of marriage.

But Frank’s proud family were with him when he received the Legion d’Honneur from Madame Nicole Ameline at a special ceremony at the Petit Grenier a Sel in Honfleur, Normandy.

Frank’s friend Bill Walker, from Eastbourne, was also honoured at the ceremony.