War hero receives top military honour ... 70 years on

A Crawley hero who helped to liberate France during the Second World War has finally been honoured for his actions - 70 years on.

Friday, 26th February 2016, 2:49 pm
Updated Friday, 26th February 2016, 2:54 pm
Eric Strange, 92, from Crawley, former Navy officer, who took part in the Normandy landings and has receives Legion d'Honneur France's top war-time honour SR1606130 Pic Steve Robards SUS-160224-103509001

Eric Strange, 92, of Deerswood Road, West Green, has been awarded France’s top military honour, the Legion D’Honneur.

As an officer in the Royal Navy, Eric took part in the Normandy Invasion, landing on Sword Beach while coming under heavy mortar fire.

And this week he recalled how later he and his comrades were living in an almost constant smoke screen after being shelled practically every day.

On one occasion, he said, “ a ruddy German aircraft tried to drop a bomb on us. Fortunately he missed. I was lucky.”

Eric first joined the Navy in 1943 , was later commissioned as an officer and finished up at the end of the war on a Hong Kong minesweeper.

Before the war Eric worked as a photo lithographic camera operator for a printing firm in Reading and it was in Reading that he first met his wife-to-be, Doreen.

The couple married in 1944. “I came back from Normandy on the Wednesday and said ‘we’re going to get married on Saturday’ - and we did. I carried a special licence around with me and it was just a question of booking the church.”

The couple had 70 happy years together before Doreen sadly died in 2014, aged 89. The couple had three children, nine grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.