Top military honour for Heysham Dambusters war hero, 91

Alan Jones, of Heysham Road in Heysham, who has been awarded France's highest accolade, the Legion D'Honneur.  PIC BY ROB LOCK

Alan Jones, of Heysham Road in Heysham, who has been awarded France's highest accolade, the Legion D'Honneur. PIC BY ROB LOCK

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A former sailor who witnessed the top secret Dambusters mission during World War Two has been honoured for his service on D-Day.

Alan Jones has been awarded with France’s highest military honour – the Legion d’Honneur – for the part he played in the notorious D-Day landings on June 6 1944.

Alan when he joined the Navy at 17.

Alan when he joined the Navy at 17.

Mr Day, now 91 and living in Heysham, was just 17 when he signed up to the Navy in 1942.

And within days he found himself at the heart of the action as part of a special operation on board HMS Courbet.

Mr Jones was one of a select few to become involved in the top secret Dambusters mission, and witnessed the infamous ‘bouncing bomb’ invented by Barnes Wallis.

Mr Jones was forced to remain silent on what he had seen – and even after being demobbed his official papers carried no record of his involvement in the mission. It wasn’t until the 50th anniversary of the Dambusters raid in 1993 that he broke his silence.

HMS Middleton.

HMS Middleton.

Mr Jones later served as a torpedoman during D-Day on the destroyer HMS Middleton, having just turned 19. As one of the initial waves of servicemen landing on Sword Beach, Mr Jones and his colleagues were fortunate to avoid being torpedoed themselves when an neighbouring Norwegian ship was hit instead.

“We had no sleep and little to eat for days,” he said. “Eventually I was taken into hospital with fatigue.”

Mr Jones later served in Singapore, Burma and India, before leaving the Navy and returning to his home city of Nottingham.

He later moved to Morecambe via Manchester with his wife Mary.

He has a son Douglas and daughter Louise, as well as two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Mr Jones was also among several war veterans to receive the Ushakov medal from the Russian government last year for the part he played during the Arctic convoys, said by the Russian Embassy to have allowed Russian soldiers to defeat the Germans on the Eastern Front.

More than 3,000 men died during the maritime campaign that Winston Churchill was said to have called the “worst journey in the world”.