Former Woodford Golf Club member receives highest French honour

Harold Thane, 91, holding his medal with wife Patti Lynn

Harold Thane, 91, holding his medal with wife Patti Lynn - Credit: Archant

A 91-year-old man who helped the Allies landing in Normandy during the Second World War has been awarded the highest order of honour by the French government.

Harold Thane, 91, who lived in Woodford for more than 20 years and was a long-time member of Woodford Golf Club, received a letter from the French Ambassador to the UK last week, informing him he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur in recognition of his “military engagement during the liberation of France”.

“I am very touched and I am accepting this honour not only for me but for all my comrades,” Mr Thane said.

He was a radar operator in the Royal Navy on a First World War Atlantic destroyer and was sent on the mission to clear the Channel of enemy boats and mines before the arrival of Allied ships in Normandy on June 6, 1944.

The letter states: “We must never forget the heroes like you and we owe you our freedom and security because you were ready to risk your lives.”

Mr Thane was invited to Paris for an official ceremony but said it would be too much for him to go.

After the war, Mr Thane, who now lives in Ongar, Essex, worked for Waltham Forest Council as a financial audit officer and used to go to east London pubs to listen to music.

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There he met his second wife Patti Lynne, 72, a former British pop singer, which version of the song Johnny Angel was a hit in 1964.

On December 12, Mr Thane will celebrate his 92th birthday and his ninth wedding anniversary with Patti.