GORDON PRATTEN RECEIVED FRENCH MILITARY HONOUR
Parishioner Gordon Pratten, 92, received France’s highest military honour on Friday February 3rd 2017. Together with three other war veterans, he was awarded the Légion d’honneur from French consulate Josette Lebrat at a ceremony in the Guildhall, Bath. Seven of his fellow parishioners along with his family were there to congratulate him.
Gordon was on Juno beach at Courseulles-sur-Mer on June 6th 1944, carrying out his duties as a Royal Engineer. He still remembers the beach landings and described the experience as ‘quite frightening’. Gordon’s job on D-Day was to drive a bulldozer; pushing landing craft back out to sea in order to collect more tanks and vehicles to bring ashore. To his alarm on the journey to France he discovered his bulldozer wasn’t waterproof but was reassured by an officer he would not need to drive into deep water. However on the beach in the heat of action, Gordon received different orders. An officer ordered him to pull a lorry out of a hole – blown in the ground by a mine – which had been submerged quickly in water. Gordon tried explaining his vehicle wasn’t waterproofed but the officer was determined. Gordon said “There was no use arguing with him and he was trying to do right thing. But instead of having one lorry in the hole you ended up with a bulldozer and a lorry! It’s just unfortunate this officer picked the wrong bulldozer.”