Top French honour given to Holton le Moor veteran

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A Holton le Moor army veteran has received France’s highest honour for the part he played in the country’s liberation more than 70 years ago.

Stan Perry travelled to Nottingham to join fellow Sherwood Rangers for the ceremony, where he was made a Chevalier of the Ordre national de la Legion d’honneur.

Stan Perry on his wedding day to Anna-Lise in 1944 EMN-160526-132216001

Stan Perry on his wedding day to Anna-Lise in 1944 EMN-160526-132216001

“I have tremendous pride in getting this award,” said Mr Perry, “but we must also remember the comrades we left behind”.

The presentations were made by Sir John Peace, the Lord-Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, and Jean-Claude Lafontaine, the honorary French Consul for the East Midlands.

“The ceremony was so impressive,” added Mr Perry.

“The British Legion turned out in force with their standards and there was also a military style band; it was all very moving.”

Now 92, Mr Perry still has a very clear memories of his time in the Sherwood Rangers.

“The vicar’s son and I went to Cambridge to join up,” he recalled.

“We wanted to go into the air force, but the officer told us the tank regiment was a better deal.

“We just wanted to do our bit, so I trained as a tank soldier; I was just over 17.

“I went to join the SAS for a short spell - there were a few exciting moments there; lots of para jumping.”

He rejoined the Sherwood Rangers in Normandy as tank troop commander in C-Squadron.

The regiment is said to have fought in more tank battles than any other regiment in the British Army.

“I arrived on June 10, so missed D-Day by four days,” added Mr Perry.

“We fought our way across France from Bayeaux and mine was the first tank to break out of Normandy.

“My tank got hit three times by anti-tank missiles.

“There was lots of sniping and lots of mortar fire.

“My corporal was severely wounded and sergeant killed; then some beggar shot me.”

The shot smashed his arm and he was evacuated back to England, where he spent a few months in hospital.

By December of 1944, having met and married his wife Anna-Lise, he was back with his regiment.

“We did a bit of tank fighting, then one day I was out of my tank getting some orders when I got blown up by a mortar bomb - now that really did put me out of action.”

After spending time in a Brussels hospital, he returned to England, where he had part of his lung removed and spent 11 months in hospital.

But things could have been a lot worse if he hadn’t been carrying a leather photo case of his new wife, which stopped shrapnel getting to his heart.

It is something he treasures to this day.

While in hospital, his actions were recognised with a promotion.

“I went in a Lieutenant and came out a Captain,” he laughed.

Mr Perry was also made adjutant at a German prisoner of war camp near Kettering, where he stayed until 1947.

“After all these years, I am still very proud of the regiment,” he added.

The Sherwood Rangers are now part of the British Yeomanry Reserve Army.

“It is so important we keep a good reserve army; the truth of it is the regular army would be absolutely vanishing if we did not have these reservists.”