Brave D-Day veteran Oliver’s medal 71 years on

91-year-old D-day landings veteran Oliver Coulthard has received a French Legion of Honour medal.
91-year-old D-day landings veteran Oliver Coulthard has received a French Legion of Honour medal.

D-Day veteran Oliver Coulthard has been recognised for his bravery after receiving a Legion of Honour medal from the French government.

Mr Coulthard, 91, spent four years as a minesweeper in the Royal Navy.

His job was to check the beaches of Normandy for mines and explosives before the troops landed in 1944.

He said: “I have never experienced anything like D-Day in my life and I don’t think I ever will.

“There were hundreds of men from all over the world due to arrive on landing craft and my job was to make it safe for them.

“We had five beaches to cover and the reality is that we could never be 100 per cent certain areas were safe.”

Mr Coulthard, of Wrenthorpe, applied for the award - named the Legion d’Honneur - after seeing an article in a national newspaper.

He said: “I am very pleased to receive the award but I don’t want to take all of the credit.

“I am 91-years-old now and made it back home. The award is more for the lads that never came back - they’re the ones who deserve recognition.

“The D-Day operation was so difficult. We were under strict instructions not to stop sweeping to help the survivors.”

Mr Coulthard has visited Normandy several times since he left the navy.

He said: “I lost a very close friend during the Normandy operation who was serving in the Yorkshire Regiment in the army.

“He is buried in one of the cemeteries there and I always go and visit his grave and have a quiet moment to remember.

“I’ll be going to the remembrance service in Wakefield on Sunday as well which is always very emotional for me.

“I think a lot of people forget about the sacrifices made by an awful lot of people.”