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Tributes have been paid to a D-Day hero who single-handedly saved a Normandy village following his death aged 98.
Lance Bombardier Les Pring passed away at his home in Bath, Somerset surrounded by family, his daughter Alison Currall confirmed.
And while relatives have honoured the ‘wonderful’ great-grandfather who devoted his later life to family and friends, veterans have saluted his achievements in WW2, something he ‘never spent any time talking about’.
Pring, who landed on Gold Beach in 1944, held off Nazi forces for several hours while holed up in a church bell tower in St Honorine La Chardronnette, France.
The then 22-year-old was the last man standing after the remaining members of his brigade were lost in the action following D-Day.
Tributes have been paid to D-Day hero Lance Bombardier Les Pring, who passed away at his home in Bath, Somerset surrounded by family, at the age of 98
Pring, who landed on Gold Beach in 1944, held off Nazi forces for several hours while holed up in a church bell tower in St Honorine La Chardronnette
He spent several hours firing at the advancing enemy until support arrived. His remarkable rearguard prevented the village of over 700 people from being re-occupied by the Nazis.
Paying tribute, the chairman of the Bristol Normandy Veterans, Paul Turner, said Les ‘never spent any time talking about himself or what he had done unless you really pressed him’.
But during a return trip to visit Normandy on the 73rd anniversary of D-Day in 2017, he found his exploits had not been forgotten by locals and he was given a hero’s welcome.
In St Honorine, he was mobbed at every turn and boys asked for his autograph as the villagers displayed their enduring gratitude.
The church he entrenched himself at still displays bullet holes from the German bombardment he faced.
The then-22-year-old spent several hours firing at the advancing enemy until support arrived. His remarkable rearguard prevented the village of over 700 people from being re-occupied by the Nazis. Pictured: Pring with a plaque commemorating the 60th anniversary of D-Day
But during a return trip to visit Normandy on the 73rd anniversary of D-Day in 2017, he found his exploits had not been forgotten by locals and he was given a hero’s welcome
L/Bdr Pring received a Military Medal for his ‘disregard for his own safety’.
His citation states: ‘In the second attack on St Honorine in June 1944 he remained on duty in a very precarious church tower which received several direct hits while he was there.
‘His coolness in passing fire orders under these conditions gave invaluable help to the defeat of several determined counter attacks.
‘…His total disregard for his own safety and his gallantry under fire were an inspiration to all ranks.’
L/Bdr, who served in the 128th Highland Regiment, fought with distinction as the Allies advanced westwards across France and into Germany.
He worked in a fishery before the war and in later life he married Betty, who he met at a dance, and worked as a regional manager with Mac Fisheries.
They moved to Bath where he became involved with the Bristol Normandy Veterans and played golf and bowls.
Pring received a Military Medal for his ‘disregard for his own safety’ to defend the village from Nazi reoccupation
He died following a long period of deteriorating health surrounded by family at his home in Bath, Somerset.
L/Bdr Pring is survived by one daughter, granddaughters Verity and Alex, and great-grandchildren Florence and Freddie.
His daughter, Alison Currall, 71, said: ‘Dad took great pride in what he did on D-Day and we were so proud of him.
‘He loved to watch all the old films of the D-Day landings.
‘He was a lovely, sociable man and he lived a very full life.’
Paul Turner, chairman of the Bristol Normandy Veterans, said: ‘Les Pring was a true war hero.
‘He was the sole survivor for his regiment, and climbed through a trap-door using a plank of wood and held off the Germans from the bell tower for several hours till further help arrived.
‘The Germans were bombarding him with heavy artillery fire but he stood firm.
‘The locals heard he was in the village in 2017 and came out to welcome him.
‘They knew of his heroic action in their village and were delighted to see him.
‘Until you have been there you can’t understand the amount of respect the people of Normandy have for the D-Day veterans – boys would ask for their autographs.
‘R.I.P. Les you will be greatly missed.’
Tributes have also been paid to L/Bdr Pring on social media.
Karin Robertson said: ‘Thank you for your service sir. Rest easy Les.’
Normandy resident Nathalie Vee added: ‘Thank you from Normandy for your service, Sir.’