Special visitor for D-Day veteran thanks to Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and Kent County
A British Army Major made a special visit to Tunbridge Wells Hospital on 6 June to personally thank a D-Day veteran for his service all those years ago.
Frank Mordecai was visiting his poorly wife on one of the wards when Major Simon Dean OBE arrived and presented him with a small token of appreciation from the chairman of Kent County Council.
The 95 year old served in the Navy aboard HMS Glenearn from 1942 to 1944 as a Convoy Escort. On 6 June 1944, aged 20, Frank was serving as a Wireman aboard a landing craft assault which was taking troops to land on Sword Beach, Normandy.
Whilst chatting to Major Dean and ward staff, Frank recalled the ramp of the craft jamming and him having to jump into the icy cold water up to his knees to help fix it, all the while wondering how the troops, who were up to their chests in the cold water, were feeling
After D-Day he went onto Asia, Japan and the Philippines, celebrating VJ-Day onboard with a beer.
He laughed when talking about his ‘crime’ – distributing rum rations to the American troops who took a dislike to the watered down spirit. All unused rum had to be thrown overboard but not wanting to see it go to waste, Frank described how he took it back to his cabin where three of them drank it merrily, and got sloshed’!
As this was a criminal act, they were quickly reprimanded but after three days in the ship’s infirmary the captain felt they had been punished enough and confined them to ship for two weeks – although as Frank pointed out, they were already in the middle of the ocean.
The visit was arranged after Judy Durrant, deputy chief nurse for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells (MTW) NHS Trust, attended a meeting at County Hall, Maidstone, on Wednesday 5 June and came across an event organised by Kent County Council for veterans who received France’s highest award, the Legion d’Honneur.
Judy said, ‘I stopped and spoke to the organisers and mentioned how I had had the pleasure of meeting a D-Day veteran earlier that day due to his wife being a patient on one of the wards at Tunbridge Wells Hospital and said how lovely it would be if they could get a message to him.
‘But KCC’s civic office team went one step further by approaching Major Simon Dean and asking him if he would visit Frank in person the following day and present him with a gift on behalf of the chairman of Kent County Council Ann Allen MBE, a request he kindly agreed to. It was a touching gesture and one which I know meant a lot to Frank.’