D-Day veteran Jim Booth was presented with the British Empire Medal by Lord Lieutenant Annie Maw at a ceremony held close to his house in Taunton.
Mr Booth, who is 99, was part of a secret reconnaissance operation in the days leading up to the D-Day landings. He piloted an ‘X craft’ mini submarine which spent days under water preparing for the Allied invasion and helping to guide in the landing craft. He was later awarded theCroix de Guerre military medal by the French government for his gallantry
When he was 96, Mr Booth was brutally attacked when he answered a call at his front door by a man wielding a claw hammer. He was left with terrible head injuries but survived the attack. His attacker was later jailed for attempted murder.
In presenting Mr Booth with his British Empire Medal, the Lord Lieutenant said: “We are all just cogs in the huge wheel of history. But Jim is a bigger cog than most of us will ever be. None of us have experienced anything like Jim experienced. What you and others like you did helped secure the freedoms we enjoy today. It is a real honour for me to be Lord Lieutenant but it is a much bigger honour for me to present this to you.”
The presentation was preceded by a talk, given by Deputy Lieutenant Michael Motum who explained the history of the British Empire Medal, first awarded in September 1917. It is, he said, given to people from all walks of life for their “inspiring work” in the community.
In receiving his medal, Mr Booth, in typically modest fashion, told the gathering of family and friends: “Aren’t I lucky. I am very grateful for this. I really wasn’t expecting anything like this at all.”