Royal welcome for our Frank
Chelsea Pensioner Frank Mouqué made the most of what could be his final trip to France to commemorate D-Day (see more: Armentières still remembered by D-Day hero)
Le Veteran Rouge, as many of his French friends call the 94-year-old former bomb disposal corporal, earned the Légion d’honneur, France’s award for service and bravery and has made the trip over the Channel for 25 years.
“I’ve been travelling to Normandy regularly to remember my fallen comrades but this was special as it will be the last trip for so many of us,” he said, adding: “I’ll go again if I’m able, though.
“My son Bryan and daughter-in-law Debbie were with me to make sure I didn’t get up to too much mischief!”
This year’s events started with a naval parade in Portsmouth, before sailing to France and an unexpected royal fanfare for Frank.
“I was whisked to Ouistreham to the Le Grand Bunker museum, where His Serene Highness Prince Albert II, of Monaco, was among the guests,” said Frank.
“He seemed to enjoy himself. Nice bloke.”
A mural dedicated to fallen soldiers was unveiled and after the ceremony, Frank was guest of honour at a party before attending services at Pegasus Bridge and Bénouville the following day.
“We took a fellow veteran, RAF man Norman Griffiths, to Carpiquet airport, near Caen, where he was stationed after D-Day. It was a wonderful trip, added Frank.”
This may, or may not, be Frank’s last visit to the beaches, where he is feted and loved by the locals, as he is still as energetic and charming as ever.
Frank was among the first Allied troops to storm Sword Beach.
After many bloody and ferocious battles to regain territory in the surrounding towns and countryside, his company spent more than a year in France as they fought their way east towards Germany.
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France