Veteran gets Christmas surprise as D-Day medal finally arrives

A war veteran from Retford got a present to remember when his medal for fighting in D-Day during the Second World War finally arrived on Christmas Day. James Levett, who first joined the army when he was just 17-years-old in 1935, was over the moon to get the accolade for his heroism 75 years later. The 95-year-old’s son, David, said the family were shocked when the medal came through the post on the big day.

James when he joined the army aged 17

He said: “It arrived on Christmas Day.

We were all shocked but the pride on my dad’s face on receiving it was just fantastic. “He was so chuffed and he has been waiting for it for a long time, over four years. “It was a fantastic surprise.”

Originally from Islington in London, James joined the army as a private in the Devonshire regiment in the armoured division in 1935. He was shipped out to help with the D-Day landings in Normandy which started on Tuesday, June 6 in 1944. James was then injured when fighting in the Battle of Villers-Bocage on June 13, 1944.

He was left lucky to be alive after being hit by a Tiger Tank.

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The tank was being commanded by notorious German commander Michael Wittmann – a battle-hardened Nazi who once destroyed 14 tanks in 15 minutes. David said: “He was really lucky to be alive after what happened.

Veteran gets Christmas surprise as D-Day medal finally arrivesThe medal arrived on Christmas Day

“After that he was sent to recover at Southampton hospital and then he was moved up to a camp in Ranby.  “There he trained to be a truck driver for the army.

“He stayed in the army until two years after the war in 1947.” James made a life for himself in Retford and went on to have four sons. It was announced that veterans would be given a special medal to mark their part in the liberation of France during the Second World War in 2014.

The French President announced the award at the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in June 2014 and since then over 5,000 medals have been issued. David added: “I am dead chuffed for him to have received his medal. “He is a hero and I am so proud of him.

He’s my hero, he’s my dad.”

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