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D-Day veteran honoured with distinction medal

STRATFORD-upon-Avon's Gordon Mucklow, age 92, has been awarded Chevalier in the Ordre National de la Legion D’honneur – France’s highest distinction medal - for his role in the D Day landings in 1944.

Born in Henley Street, Stratford, Gordon, (pictured) who has twice been deputy mayor, received his award in the post with a signed letter from the French ambassador in London, who said:

“I offer you my warmest congratulations on this high honour in recognition of your acknowledged military engagement and your steadfast involvement in the liberation of France during the Second World War.”

Gordon was 19 when he landed on Gold Beach as part of the D Day landings during the Battle for Normandy.

Having crossed the Channel in a merchant ship he climbed down netting on the side of the vessel and boarded a landing craft. He was to hit the beach six days after the initial attack on 6th June and but there was still fighting in the area in the area he landed because as Gordon puts it, “the Germans were reluctant to give up their positions.”

He was in the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry which makes him chuckle a bit because he got there in a roundabout way.

“I started the war in the Eighth Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment but actually landed in France with the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry. When I was with the Cornish lads they all said I talked posh!”

But the banter was too fade as Gordon and his comrades found themselves in pitched battle with the Germans who had dug in on Hill 112 - a key control point of strategic importance.

Gordon was armed with a projectile infantry anti-tank gun. This weapon was specifically designed for troops to carry in battle with the intention of firing a 2.5 pound bomb into enemy tanks.

Asked if he was ever sacred I combat, Gordon replied: “It was our duty, we did what we had to do, and we had to get on with it.”

The battle for Hill 112 raged on and supremacy for this vital piece of Normandy high ground changed hands several times.

During the conflict Gordon took aim at a German Tiger Tank with PIAT gun, squeezed the trigger and blew up the tank’s turret.

When it was over Gordon reckons he was one of the last British troops off the hill and he captured a couple of Germans who surrendered after what had been a heavy encounter with casualties on both sides.

But Gordon’s war was about to end when a shell fired at him ruptured his left wrist. Surgeons in Glasgow managed to repair his tendons but to this day Gordon still has fragments of shrapnel in his left hand.

After the war Gordon helped out in his dad’s grocery store in Chapel Street and later opened his own grocery store – The Bordon Stores – on Evesham Road.

He married Freda in 1948, whose father - Ted Baker - was the beadle and town crier for Stratford. Gordon and Freda have a son, Robert, and two grandsons.

As well as being deputy mayor Gordon was also a district and town councilor.

Speaking of his medal, which he recently received, Gordon said he felt it was a great honour.

He and his wife have been back to Normandy many times. He visits fallen colleagues buried in Bayeux Cemetery and walks around the countryside he helped liberate and in an ironic twist of fate that was creates, he’s even made lifelong friendships out of some the German soldiers he was fighting over 70 years ago.

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