D-Day veteran Geoff Hogg has received France’s highest military honour for his bravery during the largest seaborne invasion in history.
Born in Kirkby Stephen, Geoff grew up in Arnside and Galgate before the family settled in Balmoral Road, Morecambe, where his sister Kathleen, 93, still lives.
Geoff received his Legion d’Honneur medal to mark the part he played in the D-Day landings in June 1944.
Great-grandfather Geoff, now 90, was just 18 when he signed up in 1943, celebrating his 19th birthday on the beach at Normandy.
As part of the Carlisle Border Regiment infantry, Geoff was in the first wave of servicemen to land, arriving at Jig Green beach at Le Hamel.
After then spending time at Arremanches, Geoff was among soldiers sent to a regimental holding camp at Bayeux. From there he joined the King’s Own Scottish Borders on the front line.
He said: “We started moving up through France and saw huge devastation.”
At one stage, while travelling through Belgium into Holland, Geoff was left behind by his regiment after a mortar bomb hit the side of the trench he was sleeping in. It was assumed he had been killed but amazingly he was unharmed.
“I didn’t even wake up,” Geoff said. “I woke up the next morning and everyone had left without me!”
Geoff was seriously injured, however, in January 1945, when he was hit by a mortar bomb and suffered severe shrapnel wounds to his leg, arm and body.
He was taken to a hospital in Brussels where doctors spent the next three months attempting to remove all the pieces of clothing from his wounds while he learned to walk again.
Geoff then spent a further three months convalescing, during which time he bumped into a captain from the Army Catering Corps who was also from Morecambe, where his mother ran Smith’s milk bar on the promenade.
The captain, Jack Smith, offered Geoff the chance to leave the front line and join the catering corps, and so Geoff returned to England to train in Norwich for 12 weeks.
He was then posted to Belgium before being transferred to work at a German Prisoner of War camp.
Following a case of mistaken identity over a pub robbery, Geoff was later moved to a German aerodrome where he catered for 3,000 men a day.
He was demobbed in August 1947, returning home and taking up work transporting army vehicles around England from an operation based at Quernmore Park. He later worked for Captain Smith, who had also returned to Morecambe and was running an ice-cream manaufacturing business.
Geoff married his wife Pam in 1948 and the couple went on to have two sons, Adrian and Malcolm.
Pam sadly died in January 2014 after battling leukaemia.
Geoff’s medal arrived in the post at his home in Ashford Road, Lancaster, as a great surprise.
He said: “I am very proud to get the medal. When it arrived I was absolutely over the moon.”