Alford man, 97, receives French honour for his war efforts

A 97-year-old war veteran, who played an important role in WWII, has expressed his pride after being awarded the highest order of merit from the French Government.

Jeff Palmer with his award

Jeff Palmer, from Alford, who was born in Sutton on Sea, received the Legion of Honour (Légion d’Honneur) in the post at the end of last year, in recognition of his display of ‘extraordinary military bravery and service in times of war’.

Jeff was born in January 1924 and joined the Royal Navy, where he was involved in minesweeping and anti-submarine work, including off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada, during a period of time he spent seconded to the Royal Canadian Navy.

Later, Jeff and his ship were sent to Dover and, in the months leading up D-Day, performed smoke laying, minesweeping, and convoy escorting duties.

Jeff and his wife Mary at the promenade at Sutton on sea (circa 1945)

On at least one occasion, Jeff’s ship took fire from the German forces when it was sweeping too close to the French shore, and had to bid a hasty retreat.

Once the Allied forces pushed the Germans away from the coast, the ship could dock each night at French ports and enjoy local hospitality.

Speaking to the Leader last week, just a few days before his 97th birthday, Jeff said: “I am very pleased and proud (to receive the honour).

“Usually it would be presented to you in person, but because of the situation with Covid-19 it had to be sent in the post.

Jeff pictured during his naval service

“It’s a shame, but that’s just how things are at the moment.

“It’s been quite some time (since the war), but I was entitled to it and it was very nice to receive it.”

Our thanks goes to Jeff’s nephew, Richard Eagles, for contacting the Leader and providing information about Jeff’s military background. Thanks also goes to the www.suttononsea.info website for supplementary information.