WWII veteran and Audlem resident Tom Hassall visited site today, sharing with us his Legion d'Honneur, the highest French order of merit.
Tom was recently presented this award by the French government who wished to recognise D-Day veterans for their bravery in the liberation of France in the Second World War.
On the 5th June 1944, Tom was sent to Weymouth and went on board ship. The planned sailing was delayed 24hrs due to storms. Tom arrived off the coast of France next evening, disembarked onto a landing craft, jumped into the water and ran across Juno Beach under mortar fire. They dug in for three days in a field and then Tom and 10 others were sent to the front line in the 4th battalion Lincolnshire Regiment attached to the Canadian Tank Core.
Tom recalls how fortunate this was because the Canadian battle strategy was to send the tanks in first followed by the infantry -- unlike the British!
The main thrust at this time was the relief of the town Caen, but Tom's battalion was ordered to travel north to free as many ports as possible. Tom remembers clearly the surrender of Le Havre as he was dug in in an orchard.
His battalion moved north through Belgium and Holland to Arnhem and Nijmegen and the fierce battle of the bridges at these towns. In the winter and spring of 1945 they attacked Arnhem and took it.
On into Germany where he remembers hunting wild boar and deer for the German population who at this time had little food. He was transferred to the 4th Battalion Gloucester regiment and spent three months in Berlin in the Brigade of Guards.
He was then granted two weeks leave before being sent to Jamaica from where he was demobbed in November 1947.
After the War, Tom joined the Milk Marketing Board and Dairy Crest as Manager of Blue Cheshire Cheese, which was a volume seller back in the day.
Today Tom is a big fan of Eatlean and was keen to tell us how he has maintained the same weight throughout his eventful career from soldier to cheese buyer!
You can find out more about eatlean cheese here.