D-Day veteran Dennis Roy Cooper given Legion D'honneur

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Dennis Roy CooperImage source, Royal Navy
Image caption,
Dennis Roy Cooper was 23 years old when he enlisted with the Royal Navy in October 1940

A 102-year-old former Royal Navy minesweeper has been awarded France's highest military honour for his service on D-Day.

Dennis Roy Cooper was presented with the Legion D'honneur during a ceremony at Blandford Camp in Dorset.

Mr Cooper, originally from Portsmouth, said the job he did had been "incredibly risky" but he was "a bit surprised" to be receiving the honour.

"It is important that these events are never forgotten," he said.

Mr Cooper enlisted with the Royal Navy in October 1940 at the age of 23.

In 1944, he was serving as a sub lieutenant and helped to escort the two mulberry harbours to Normandy. From 5 June that year, he was engaged in minesweeping from Sword Beach to Cherbourg off the Cotentin peninsular.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Mr Cooper, known as Roy, was presented with the honour at Blandford Camp

In a statement, the Royal Navy confirmed Mr Cooper "saw extensive action clearing minefields" and had played an important role in keeping the waters clear of explosives.

He was presented with the award in the presence of Lord Lieutenant of Dorset Angus Campbell and other senior members of the armed forces.

Accepting the honour, Mr Cooper said: "We are all here today because of the sacrifices made in those dark days.

"I lost many friends who I will never forget."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Mr Cooper attended the ceremony, organised by armed forces charity SSAFA, with his wife Mary

The Lord Lieutenant told Mr Cooper the decision to honour him had been made by French President Emmanuel Macron "in recognition of what you did".

The veteran has previously been awarded the 1939-1945 Star, Africa Star, Italy Star, France and Germany Star with Atlantic Bar, Defence Medal and the Victory Medal.

After the war, he left the armed forces and began a career in the motor industry.

He retired to Marnhull in Dorset, where he has lived with wife Mary, a retired headmistress, for 32 years.

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