D-Day hero awarded France’s highest military honour dies aged 97 after contracting coronavirus – The Sun

A D-DAY hero awarded one of France's highest military honours has died after testing positive for coronavirus.

Harold Pearsall, who was 97 and lived in Tamworth, Staffordshire, died at Sutton Coldfield's Good Hope Hospital on Sunday.

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The Royal Artillery veteran, who received the Legion D'Honneur in December 2015, landed alongside Canadian forces during the Normandy campaign.

Peter Lloyd of the 1944 Alliance Normandy-Market Garden veterans' association, said Mr Pearsall had been diagnosed with Covid-19 while at hospital in Birmingham on Friday.

"It is with great sadness that I have to announce the passing of our dear friend and brother veteran Chevalier Harold Pearsall la Légion d'Honneur," he said.

"Our prayers and thoughts are with Harold's family and friends."


Harold Pearsall joined up in 1942 and completed his basic anti-tank specialist training.

He landed on Gold Beach at Arromanches on D-Day, and remembered the 'noise and heat' from shells fired by HMS Warspite, Nelson and Rodney, the BBC reports.

After fighting in a series of skirmishes, he began to prepare with his fellow soldiers for the assault on Caen, which was still in German hands.

But approaching the city, the men were ambushed with phosphorous bombs and grenades.

All of the unit's guns were taken out by the assault.

Unit commander Major Marsh urged the men to go into battle – but the unit sustained 75 per cent losses that day.

Ultimately, Caen was destroyed by bombing. After the battle little of the pre-war city remained.

Reconstruction of the city took until 1962.

Mr Pearsall, who was previously in hospital with a broken hip, was admitted to Good Hope Hospital, Birmingham, last week.

The widower, who has two sons, was isolated after testing positive for the virus and could not have visitors, Mr Lloyd said.

However, before he fell ill, Mr Pearsall was a "very active" member of the Birmingham association and went on regular trips to Normandy and the Netherlands.


Mr Lloyd said: "He was very proud and always clean, smart and tidy."

Mr Pearsall attended last year's 75th anniversary of D-Day at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, alongside hundreds of other veterans, the BBC reports.

He met Prince William at the service and discussed his service with the royal before later describing him as a "very nice fella".

It comes as the UK's death rate doubled today, with 381 people – including a teen with no underlying health conditions – dying in 24 hours.

Britain's positive Covid-19 cases have also jumped – with 25,150 infected people – up 2,706 from yesterday.

Luca Di Nicola, originally from Italy but living in North London, is the UK's youngest Covid-19 victim with no underlying health conditions.

He was 19. The teenager had visited his GP with coronavirus symptoms last week but was reportedly given paracetamol and told he had "nothing to worry about".

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