Surprise for D-Day veteran as he visits his wife in Tunbridge Wells hospital
by Andy Tong | 19th June 2019
A BRITISH ARMY Major made a special visit to Tunbridge Wells Hospital on the 75th anniversary of D-Day to personally thank a veteran for his service in that campaign.
Frank Mordecai was visiting his poorly wife on one of the wards on June 6 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 Royal Navy aboard HMS Glenearn from 1942 to 1944 as a Convoy Escort.
On June 6, 1944, aged 20, Frank was serving as a Wireman aboard a Landing Craft Assault which was taking troops to land on Sword Beach in Normandy.
While talking 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.
He recalled wondering how the troops, who were up to their chests in the sea, were feeling.
After D-Day, Frank went on to serve in Asia, Japan and the Philippines, celebrating VJ-Day on board with a beer.
He joked about what he called his ‘crime’: He used to distribute rum rations to the American troops but, because they disliked the watered-down spirit, a lot of it went unused.
‘I said how lovely it would be if they could get a message to Frank. It was a touching gesture, and one which I know meant a lot to him’
It was supposed to be thrown overboard but, not wanting to see it go to waste, Frank took it back to his cabin where he and two colleagues ‘got sloshed’.
They were reprimanded for committing a criminal act, but after three days in the ship’s infirmary the captain felt they had been punished enough.
He confined them on board for two weeks but, as Frank pointed out, they were in the middle of the ocean anyway.
The visit was arranged after Judy Durrant, Deputy Chief Nurse for Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, attended a Kent County Council
There she heard of an event organised by the council for veterans who received France’s highest award, the Légion d’honneur.
Judy said: “I stopped and spoke to the organisers and mentioned how I’d 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, Mrs Ann Allen, MBE – a request that he kindly agreed to.
“It was a touching gesture, and one which I know meant a lot to Frank.”