Top French honour for WW2 veteran

Veteran Geoff Cooper has been awarded the Legion D'Honneur for his involvement of the liberation of France in World War II
Veteran Geoff Cooper has been awarded the Legion D'Honneur for his involvement of the liberation of France in World War II

A Mansfield war veteran who took part in the Normandy landings has been awarded the highest French Government decoration.

Geoff Cooper, 90 was awarded the Legion D’honneur order Chevalier, which is the highest honour bestowed on former military personnel.

The medal is in recognition for his ‘steadfast involvement’ during the Second World War in helping the Allies ‘begin the liberation of Europe’ in the Normandy region after D Day in 1944.

Geoff, of Windsor Road told how he was called as private in the Hallamshire Battalion in the York and Lancaster regiment shortly after his 18th birthday in February 1944 and was plunged into action on the front line in July.

He said: “We landed on Sword Beach just below Ver-sur-Mer and we were stuck there for five weeks.

“We then moved inland to the front line at Caen, which took 56 days to capture.

There was a Thousand Bomber raid on the town which ended up full of craters.

“It was virtually trench warfare - for our platoon it was always advance to contact with the Germans.

“You knew you had reached that point when the Germans started shooting.

“It was terrifying and anyone who says it wasn’t must have thought they were John Wayne. Our Corporal was awarded the Victoria Cross. He was shot and killed after he stormed a machine gun nest. Five of us were killed in the same day.”

Pvt Cooper’s regiment moved on up to Roosendaal in Holland, where he was taken from front line action after he developed an injury in his foot.

After he was demobbed in 1947 he returned home to Huthwaite where he continued his long career with the Co-op. He married his fiancé Irene in 1948.