French honour for Burton Latimer’s Eric for his D-Day landing exploits

Eric Prigmore with his medal.
Eric Prigmore with his medal.

A Burton Latimer man has told how he ferried one of the British Army’s most senior officers around during the Second World War after he was awarded France’s highest honour.

94-year-old Eric Prigmore was awarded the Légion d’honneur for his services on board HMS Faulknor and his part in the D-Day landings.

Last month the Northants Telegraph covered another Burton Latimer man’s award which he picked up at a ceremony in London.

It has now emerged that Mr Prigmore also won the award, but was not physically fit enough to collect it.

And now he has told of his escapades in one of British history’s most significant eras.

He recalled: “We were anchored outside a torpedo near The Needles in the Isle of Wight.

“After a 24 hour delay, hours before the main body, we left with two other destroyers to escort and protect a flotilla of minesweepers to clear a channel.

“We then returned towards the Solent and turned to lead the armada to the French coast where we anchored in our allotted position on Juno beach.

“We’d been closed up on our 4.7 gun all night and when it started getting light we realised how close we were to the beach, a real grandstand view.

“Then the order came to load the gun and it seem as though all hell was let loose but this was something special.

“Our gun was bad enough but rocket ships, battle ships and cruisers made your ears ring.

“After the ceasefire we raised anchor and returned to Portsmouth and a landing craft pulled in with two stretcher cases seriously injured by shrapnel.

“Unfortunately they both died and we had a short service and buried them on the way back.

“After we got the ship back in some sort of order a boat bulled alongside and Field Marshal Montgomery and his staff came aboard.

“We ferried him around the American sector meeting his fellow big pots and when he wanted to go ashore we had to send a message for a landing craft to come and fetch him.”

Eric’s daughter Pat Abbott says she is immensely proud of her father’s achievements.

She said: “The older my father has got, the more proud I have grown of him.

“When I was younger I didn’t take that much notice but having looked at the history it’s clear just how big a role he played.

“Memorabilia keeps cropping up everywhere and I’m immensely proud.”