Top French military honour for Exmouth veteran Les
PUBLISHED: 06:30 15 December 2016
An Exmouth veteran who served at the D-Day landings has been recognised by the French government for his part in liberating the country during World War Two.
Les Dommett, 92, was a sapper in the Royal Engineers who sailed to Normandy on board the United States Liberty ship MT5.
During the crossing, the ship was just 100 metres away from a fellow ship which was hit by German artillery and sunk.
Les’s ship dropped anchor off Sword Beach at 5am, on June 7, 1944, with Les’s role to look after and unload vehicles and equipment and take them ashore.
Once on land, he served as a gunner on a Bren Gun Carrier, and witnessed the arrival on the beach of Prime Minister Winston Churchill on June 13, and Free France leader Charles de Gaulle on June 14.
In recognition of his service at the landings, Les has now been presented with the Legion d’Honneur, the highest military award in France, as part of a campaign by the French government to recognise British veterans who were involved.
Les, whose family had a chip shop in Exmouth which was bombed during the war, killing his grandparents, later went on to work on the railways.
He is married to Vera, and has three children and six grandchildren.
To receive the award, Les, who lives in Windsor Square, attended a ceremony in Teignmouth, where he was presented with the honour by Honorary French Consul, Alain Sibiril.
Asked what it meant to be him to be presented with the award, Les said: “I’m proud, it was a good day.”
Son Gary said: “It was fantastic to see him pick up the award. It was just so well deserved.
“The most poignant thing about the day was people thanking him for what he did.
“It really does bring it home to you.”