Notts D-Day veteran, 92, awarded France’s highest honour

Denis Silverwood, 92, has been appointed a Knight of the Order of the Legion d'honneur

A 92-year-old Second World War veteran from Nottinghamshire has been awarded the French Republic’s highest honour.

Denis Silverwood was part of D-Day, the largest seaborne invasion in history which began the liberation of German occupied northwestern Europe from Nazi control.

And Mr Silverwood has now been appointed a Knight of the Order of the Legion d’honneur, the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits.

The citation which accompanied the insignia from the French Embassy said: “We must not forget heroes like you.

“You came from Britain and the Commonwealth to begin the liberation of Europe by liberating France.

“We owe you our freedom and security to your dedication because you were ready to risk your life.”

In 1942, Mr Silverwood volunteered for service in the Royal Navy and attended the Butlin’s holiday camp at Skegness which had been converted into His Majesty’s Naval Establishment Royal Arthur.

On completion of his training, 17-year-old Ordinary Seaman Silverwood was sent to Scotland to begin training as a signalman and, shortly afterwards, his posting was confirmed to HM Minesweeper MMS 218.

He joined the fleet in one of the most dangerous duties in the war at sea.

The MMS 218 was a small warship, lightly armed and made of wood which made her very vulnerable to enemy fire.

But Mr Silverwood’s Minesweeper along with sister ships were responsible for clearing the sea lanes of highly explosive mines on June 6 1944.

This led to the greatest invasion fleet setting sail slowly and silently across the English Channel with ships filled to the brim with troops.

Mr Silverwood said: “We didn’t have it as bad as the soldiers though!”

He was awarded with one of the oldest British recognitions of bravery for the Normandy Landings, being Mentioned In Despatches.

Upon the outbreak of peace, Mr Silverwood joined a scheme which saw many ex-service men join the police force, and in 1946 he joined Nottingham City Police alongside his father.

He worked his way up through the ranks before being promoted to Chief Superintendent in 1970.

In June 1974, he received a letter which said: “I am directed by the Secretary of State to inform you that Her Majesty The Queen has been pleased to award you the Queen’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service.”

Mr Silverwood retired in 1981 but volunteered to help the force and community in 1997 by assisting as a volunteer to man Radcliffe-upon-Trent police station.