D-Day veteran Bob Barron, who received France’s highest military decoration for his part in the Normandy landings, has died in Preston following a short illness.
The war hero, who also fought at Arnhem, the Battle of the Bulge in Ardennes and was amongst the first troops to cross the Rhine into Germany, was 98.
Bob was presented with the Legion D’Honneur in 2016 in a ceremony at Fulwood Barracks. Consul Philip Daniel handed over the medal as a mark of gratitude from the French people.
At the time the old soldier said modestly he had only played “a small role in a very large team effort”.
“I was lucky to survive the conflict without injury and I always remember, every day, my comrades and friends who weren’t so lucky.
“I realise how fortunate I have been over the last 70 years to see Europe grow out of that terrible conflict in freedom and peace.”
Preston North End fan Bob, who had supported the club for more than 80 years, died in Finney House care home - his room overlooked the Deepdale Stadium.
Nephew Michael Barron said: “Uncle Bob was a remarkable man. He enjoyed his life to the full. He was someone who had a lot of fun and was a real character.
“Sadly he got flu in January and it developed intp pnuemonia. He was in hospital until three days before he died.
“He was transferred to Finney House and we got him a room overlooking Deepdale. He had supported North End since he was young and the club very kindly gave him a VIP day out at a game not so long ago. He loved it.”
Bob was born in Sollom near Tarleton and was called up by the Army in 1942, initially to the Royal Artillery before transferring to the Pioneer Corps.
Their role was to help the Royal Engineers construct temporary bridges at the forefront of the Allied advance across Europe.
On D-Day he landed on Gold Beach near the village of Arromanches. Back in 2016 he recalled how sea sick he and his fellow troops were as they waited for hours in the choppy waters of the Channel to finally reach land.
One of his clear memories of the day was being anchored next to the battleship HMS Rodney as its big guns fired deafening salvos at the German fortifications.
After landing on Gold Beach one of the Pioneer Corps’ first tasks was to help construct an emergency airfield between the towns of Tilley and Bayeux. They were under constant mortar fire as they worked in the open.
Bob was then involved in the battle for Caen before the invasion forces pressed on through northern France. Again the Pioneer Corps helped build bridges and clear obstructions to keep up the Allied momentum.
At the ceremony to present him with the Legion D’Honneur, Bob said he was “deeply moved” by the award and thanked the French president and the people of France for recognising his “small” role in the liberation of their country.
Bob’s funeral will be held at Preston Crematorium on March 20 (1pm).