Grantham D-Day hero awarded France’s highest honour

Frank Northing with the Legion d'Honneur.
Frank Northing with the Legion d'Honneur.
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A World War Two veteran has received France’s highest honour after his heroic exploits on D-Day.

Frank Northing, now 90 years of age, has received the Legion d’honneur, awarded to him by the French government for his part in the D-Day landings which led to the liberation of France from German occupation.

The Legion d'Honneur medal given to Frank Northing.

The Legion d'Honneur medal given to Frank Northing.

Frank was an 18-year-old Private with the Green Howards when he stepped off the boat onto a Normandy beach only to get shot in the arm almost immediately.

Frank, of Alma Park Road, Grantham, said: “I was walking through the water up to my tummy with my rifle in the air. I looked at my arm and thought what’s that. It was blood. The chap next to me said you’ve been hit.”

Frank was told that it was only a flesh wound, but later that week it was obviously much more serious and he was sent home to recuperate.

After a month back in England, he was sent back into the fray at Caen in France.

Frank made his way through Belgium where his unit came to the Albert Canal and fought the Germans. He was also involved in helping to secure the capture of the bridge at Nijmegen in Holland, just managing to prevent the Germans from blowing it up.

Frank was captured by the Germans when he came across a mansion. A tank shell ripped through one of the walls and the explosion knocked him out. He was patched up by a German doctor, but soon freed by his advancing colleagues.

The Legion d’honneur medal was sent to him through the post. An emotional Frank said: “It’s great. But I lost five mates on D-Day and a lot more after. I think about them. They have had no recognition whatsoever.”

Frank was given help to receive the medal by plumber Robert Morley, from Marston, who heard of Frank’s story after doing some work for his daughter.

Robert wrote to the MoD on Frank’s behalf.

He said: “I am chuffed to bits for Frank. These men need to be recognised. Frank may think he didn’t do a lot, but he did. It’s only right that these lads get their medals. It cannot be given posthumously. It was good to make it happen for him.”

Frank had three children with his wife Mabel who died 10 years ago. After the war he worked as a batman serving officers at RAF Cranwell. He later went to work at RAF Spitalgate, now the Prince William of Gloucester barracks in Grantham, where he became bar manager.