War hero Les named Felpham citizen of the year

Felpham Parish Council chairman David Edwards presents the award to Les Garrett SUS-150209-103748001
Felpham Parish Council chairman David Edwards presents the award to Les Garrett SUS-150209-103748001

D-Day veteran Leslie Garrett has been honoured as Felpham’s citizen of the year.

Mr Garrett was presented with an engraved glass award by Felpham Parish Council chairman David Edwards at this month’s council meeting.

The annual award is given to the person the council’s chairman believes deserves recognition.

Cllr Edwards said: “I have had the honour of knowing Les for many years. He has regaled me with so many stories over the years that I haven’t got time to go through all of them.

“Les, you are a true gentleman. I could spend hours in your company.”

Mr Garrett, 88, of Sarisbury Close, served as a Royal Marine on D-Day as well as on the Arctic convoys.

He said: “This is amazing and a really wonderful surprise. I am deeply humbled. This is a momentous occasion for me and most unexpected.

“I’ve had one or two awards like this over the years and, when I receive them, I receive them on behalf of the fallen and all my colleagues who were killed in action or who have died since.”

Mr Garrett’s late wife was a member of the parish council for eight years.

His service in the second world war began at the age 
of 14 when he volunteered 
for the Home Guard in Felpham and manned an anti-aircraft battery.

He told the councillors at last week’s meeting how he had been held as a prisoner of war by Canadian soldiers while he was on patrol in Slindon Woods and still a pupil at Chichester High School for Boys. He had to explain the incident to his headmaster.

Les joined the Royal Marines at an under-age 16.

At 5.42am on June 6, 1944, he was serving on 
HMS Diadem off Beny-sur-Mer on Juno Beach on the Normandy coast.

He lifted the cordite charge from the magazine hoist and to the tray behind the highly explosive shell before the charge and shell were thrust into the gun behind.

He and his shipmates went 52 hours without sleep as they fired at German ships up to 13.5 miles away or at Nazi aircraft 25,000-35,000ft in the air.

The light cruiser fired 
3,826 shells between June 6 and 29 and survived an 
attack by six enemy aircraft at 11pm on D-Day.

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