Fairfield WW2 veteran who served in the Normandy D-Day landings has died aged 94

Benjamin Platts receiving the legion d'honneur from Helene Griffin in March 2018. With Elizabeth Pritchard, Ben Platts, Helene Griffin, Susan Hardman and Michael Hardman.
Benjamin Platts receiving the legion d'honneur from Helene Griffin in March 2018. With Elizabeth Pritchard, Ben Platts, Helene Griffin, Susan Hardman and Michael Hardman.

A Fairfield WW2 veteran who was awarded the Légion d’honneur medal for his part in the Normandy D-Day landings has died aged 94.

Ben Platts, who died last month due to a number of health complications, served in the Navy aboard HMS Ramillies during the three-day invasion which began on June 6 1944.

Though Ben worked as a cook aboard the ship his daughter Elizabeth told how 'when action stations were sounded' his job was to pass cordite and ammunition to the ships's gunners.

Father-of-two Ben was awarded the Légion d’honneur medal - the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits - in March 2018.

He told the Advertiser at the time: "I’m happy I’ve done my bit but not as proud as I think my dad would have been - the son of a miner done good.”

Speaking about the Normandy Invasion he said 'I never realised at the time I was part of something important. I was just doing my job and doing my duty'.

He added: “In the navy you always obey your last order and during D-Day that was to keep firing at the coastline armoury to back up our boys as they arrived inland.”

Speaking after his death on June 19 Ben's daughters Elizabeth Pritchard and Helen Rawson described him as 'impulsive, impatient and impetuous but a rock for family and friends who needed help'.

Elizabeth said: "He lived life to the full - he was strong in both strength and character and was well-respected.

"As a veteran of WW2 his greatest achievement was to receive the Légion d’honneur medal.

"This was presented to him by a lovely lady French lady called Helene Griffin.

"She and her family appreciated the efforts of all who helped liberate the people of France - not bad for a coal miner's son."

Helen told how 'back in the day Ben loved a few pints' .

She also remembered her father for his wit - saying: "The day before he passed away he was asked by a doctor if he was allergic to anything - his reply was 'only

women'.

Ben was born on January 14 1925 in Consiborough, South Yorks., leaving school aged 14 and starting work with his father at Yorkshire Main Colliery.

However after seeing a colleague cut in half during a coalmine accident he joined the Navy - he would go on to survive two cave-ins in later life after returning to mining.

The father-of-two - who owned and ran Ben’s Chippy on Fairfield Road for 20 years - sailed all over the world while on HMS Ramillies.

Docking at ports all over the Mediterranean and the Pacific Ocean Ben was aboard the Ramilies in New Zealand when a Maori chief presented the Captain with a puipui grass skirt and blessed the ship.

The Captain always wore the skirt in battle and during the D-Day operations three torpedoes missed the Ramillies.

After the war Ben worked in Manchester as a baker - which was where he met future wife Nancy who he married in March 1948.

Elizabeth was born three years later while second daughter Helen daughter was born in 1957.

After closing Ben’s Chippy in 1986 the great-grandfather-of-11 worked at the Buxton Rugby Club and later at the Spa Bakery.

He took holidays with Nancy and their friend and neighbour Maureen at the Ramillies Association Reunions and was treasurer of the local RNA Association.

Helen told how during a 'well-attended' funeral Buxton Sea Cadets formed a line and 'piped him aboard' as part of a 'very moving tribute'.

During the service a bell was rung eight times signalling the end of a sailor's watch.

She added: "What greater parade could there have been to honour a man of such humble beginnings?"