97-year-old Welling man present at D-Day has passed away
PUBLISHED: 11:17 06 July 2017 | UPDATED: 09:18 07 July 2017
Sapper Fred Norris was awarded a military medal after saving the lives of two comrades
A Welling man who was present at D-Day and later received a Legion d’Honneur has passed away.
Sapper Fred Norris MM, was part of the Royal Engineers and died on June 22, just 10 days before his 98th birthday.
His family said in a tribute: “He was strong, kind, generous, a true gentleman and a family man. He was much loved and respected a touched all those who met him. He’ll be sadly missed but leaves a great legacy.”
Mr Norris was drafted aged 24, and sailed out to Gosport on the morning of June 6 1944, aboard the first vessel out of the harbour, a Landing Craft.
Afterwards he was awarded a military medal for his actions, after helping his fellow men in their time of need.
He saved two men - after advancing from the beach into Lion-sur-Mer and on to Boulevard - Sapper Morris, who had been hit from the blast of a German grenade, and the Sergeant of 41 Commando who he encountered lying in the road crying out for water.
Those who had won a military medal were immediately promoted to the rank of sergeant, but Mr Norris declined this as he wanted to remain a sapper.
He reportedly told the general “Sir I turned them down because I wanted to stay with my mates” when asked where his ‘stripes’ were.
In February 2016, he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur by a French ambassador at a ceremony held at the Chatham Museum.
Mr Norris’ grandaughter, Laura Dent, said: “The whole family were present at the ceremony, as well as different members of the Royal Engineers, of all difference rankings - from officers to sappers.
“We were all incredibly proud and as usual Fred was incredibly modest, he just kept saying he did what he ahad to do. He also greeted the French ambassador with ‘viva la France’.”
He will have a military service funeral on July 24, at St Andrews Church, Brampton Road.