A blind Second World War veteran from Fleetwood has been given a prestigious military award in recognition of his wartime service.
Former Royal Navy man Ernie Lee, 92, has received the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur from the French Government.
The medal, which is the highest French order for military and civil merits, has been awarded to Ernie for his part in the D-Day landings which paved the way for the liberation of France from Hitler’s Nazis in 1944.
Ernie was serving with the Royal Navy’s second Escort Group during the campaign, and he spent time on HMS Loch Killin.
The frigate was one of the first vessels armed with the brand new Squid anti-submarine mortar which played such a key role in tackling the Germans’ lethal u-boats.
Ernie, of Harrow Avenue, said: “We blocked the channel and stopped the U-boats - and we were very good at sinking them. I was an Engine Room Artificer 4th class, an ERA, and my role was to help keep the engine room in order so the ship could do its job. The lads up on the deck did the fighting.
“I feel very honoured to be given this award by the French, I never expected it - especially after all these years.”
Ernie was told that he could receive the award at the French Embassy in London or from any French consuls in the country - or get it sent to his home. He chose the latter.
The great grandfather is proud of his fishing traditions in Fleetwood. After leaving the Royal Navy he worked as an engineer on Fleetwood docks, helping to keep the town’s fishing fleet in ship shape.
Ernie, who has been blind for many years, was married to Mona until her death, 21 years ago.
He has a son, a daughter, four grandchildren and one grand-daughter, who are all proud of his award.