Patrick Connor, 91, served with the Royal Navy in the Second World War from 1942 and was assigned to landing craft, large vessels capable of carrying more than 200 troops.
Known as Pat, the man who tried twice before to join up by giving an incorrect birth date, was a gunner and part of the massive armada which staged the attack on the Normandy beaches.
Following the aborted mission on June 5, Pat was in the first wave of vessels to land on Sword beach early morning on June 6.
Following the horrors of that first day Pat spent many of the following months crossing the channel landing thousands more troops in Normandy and returning to Britain with thousands of German prisoners of war. At the end of the war he joined the Merchant Navy and travelled all over the world.
Following the presentation of the Legion d’ Honneur award Pat said: “I am over the moon to receive such a high honor and would like to thank everybody who made it happen. I accept this award not only for myself but also for those who never came home and those that have since gone.”
The Queen’s Park campus site was the Western Command Headquarters of the Army during the war and the nine men, from the North West, North Wales, and Shropshire, were awarded for their part in liberating France.
The ceremony was organised by French honorary consul Aude Auclair, and took place in the De Gaulle Brasserie, in Churchill House, the site of secret meetings between Winston Churchill, General Eisenhower and General De Gaulle during the war.
Also in attendance was the Mayor of Wirral Les Rowlands.
Mme Auclair said: “It has been an absolute honour to represent the French Government and to recognise the selfless acts displayed by these brave men. This medal is in recognition of their involvement in the liberation of France – the people of France owe our freedom to their dedication.”
Patrick Connor was born on September 27, 1924 in Liverpool, the son of Irish parents. His father was a merchant seaman throughout both world wars and survived the sinking of several of his ships.
Patrick married his wife Alice in 1957 and they have two children. They have lived in Ellesmere Port since 1957.
After ending his seafaring career Pat worked for Shell at Stanlow refinery until his retirement in 1984.
The full list of those who are now Chevaliers (Knights) of the Légion d’honneur following the ceremony in Chester are:
Patrick Connor from Ellesmere Port.
Thomas Gerald Norris from Market Drayton, Shropshire.
John Dudley Sanders from Meols, Wirral.
Cecil Stuart Turner from Wrexham.
John Goronwy Roberts from Froncysyllte near Llangollen.
Charles Eric Barclay from Whittington, Oswestry, Shropshire.
William Palin from Northwich, Cheshire.
Emyr Thomas from Prestatyn.
Denis SA Rose from West Kirby, Wirral.