Town’s gratitude to veteran of the war

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He’s already a Sheffield stalwart - now Gordon Drabble is a Frenchman too.

The 88-year-old has been made an Honorary Citizen of the Normandy town of Thury-Harcourt, a place his regiment helped to liberate in World War Two.

Gordon was a 19-year-old lance corporal with the 59th division South Staffordshire Regiment when he landed on Gold beach in June 1944.

By August 12 his unit had made it inland to woods near Thury-Harcourt when they were subjected to heavy shelling.

Gordon was hit in the shoulder and wounded badly and the next day, as he was being transported back to Blighty, his unit marched on into Thury-Harcourt.

Despite heavy casualties and the loss of 33 comrades, they liberated the town from the Germans, earning the locals’ everlasting gratitude.

Grandfather-of-13 Gordon, who went on to work for Cadbury’s, returned to Normandy last week for the 69th anniversary of D-Day.

And while there he was stunned to be star guest at a surprise ceremony, where he was made an Honorary Citizen, and presented with a certificate, medallion, tie and commemorative book.

He was also greeted by pupils from the town’s school, where four children and a teacher were killed in 1944.

Back home with wife Vi, Gordon said: “I didn’t have a clue anything was going to happen, and I feel really proud. The mayor told me the pride was all theirs.”